protest

‘Why did it work this time?’ David Graeber on Occupy Wall Street

It has been two years since Occupy emerged on the global scene, inspired by an on-going wave of protest movements and upheavals. Like its predecessors, the movement was met with great skepticism – not least by many self-acclaimed leftist academics and journalists. How could a political movement, one objection went, be of any significance and endurance if it failed or refused to produce a clear, univocal agenda? How could it affect society or politics beyond the border of its own tent camp?

A bequest from the barricades

I was gripped by this book. I enjoyed it partly because it tells my own story – and who can resist their own story? Or rather (because only I can tell my own story), it tells the author’s story of a series of events and of a movement that I was part of. Namely: that wave of North American and European counter-summit protests that emerged with the mobilisation against the WTO in Seattle in November 1999 (or possibly with the ‘Carnival Against Capital’ in London a few months earlier), and then waxed and waned over the course of the following eight years or so.

Communism, occupy and the question of form

Resonance

Occupy as a form has often been discussed. For Jodi Dean, Occupy gave form to structural inequality (1% vs. 99%) and acted like ‘a nascent party’ (2013: 60). However, even those who always lauded ‘micro-politics of resistance’ or ‘subaltern agency’ seem to now veer towards something like the idea of a form.

Protest without return; or, pedagogy with a gag

In art and art education, when those representing protest speak, write, perform, or otherwise distribute their labours, they encounter a conflict of consumption. This conflict is fought over the returnability of such actions into the system of funding, validation, and recognition that generally defines the climate of art’s research culture today – a research culture dominated, on the whole, by contemporary neoliberal policies in UK education.

Writing politics

What more can we say today about the relations between writing and politics? ‘The pen is mightier than the sword’ goes the old slogan, but is it mightier than the traditional forms of direct action, political protest and insistent recalcitrance?

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