Category Archives: agonism

Etienne Balibar: “‘Gilets jaunes’: the meaning of the confrontation”

“That is how democracy is invented and perhaps, at the end of the day, how a regime can change. It is not a long road from the roundabout to the town hall, via the public square, which does not mean it is easy to travel. Demonstrations, popular assemblies, municipal counter-power, États Généraux or their modern equivalent, such is perhaps the squaring of the circle; it must be resolved on a daily basis and over the coming weeks, probably quite quickly, so that a political idea that everyone now needs can emerge from a revolt that no one had expected.”

Paris-Luttes.info: “The gilets jaunes: What violence?”

“The political act, as opposed to voting, is when people invite themselves in and break into an institutional game determined by power.  This is perhaps anarchism: to reject the rules of the game, to expect nothing from power, to give up the idea that the power will grant anything, to grant oneself.  Strikes, blockages, wild demonstrations.”

Temps Critiques: “The envy of the French Revolution of the Yellow Vests”

“Spontaneously, the reference to the French Revolution constituted for the Yellow Vests the only historical reference, because only it carries the collective memory of a social and political upheaval with which they can identify.”

Samuel Hayat: “The Gilets Jaunes and the Democratic Question”

“A new emancipatory politics, which remains to be invented, should be based on making the ensemble of relations of domination visible, without hierarchy and by remaining open and responsive to new antagonisms which will inevitably come to light. As it is, the Gilets Jaunes movement, anchored in a citizenist conception of politics, does not seem to be taking this path toward the visibilization of these antagonisms, even as it opens up new democratic possibilities. A renewal of an emancipatory politics must therefore think both with and against this movement, for democracy and against oligarchy, but also for the expression of conflict and against consensus – whether it be technocratic or citizenist.”

CrimethInc.: “Between the Reaction and the Referendum”

“Several questions remain. How can we make sure that the ways we participate in the yellow vest movement and others like it won’t be simply perceived as an “apolitical” expression of anger, giving nationalists a platform to take credit for our efforts? When we act to create a crisis, how do we prevent far right parties from capitalizing on it by promising a return to normal? How do we confront legalist and reactionary ideas within the movement? How should we prepare for the next round, in which we will either face a stronger repressive and authoritarian state or a massive nationalist and reactionary wave? But also—how can we reinforce our connections with everyone else in the streets and traffic circles?”

lundimatin: “The specter of chaos”

“The specter of chaos or anarchy is brandished by those who rule the world and benefit from it. Anarchy and chaos are identified and this identification is an illusion that the negation of order leads to chaos. What is denied by revolt or revolution is not order in general but this particular order.”

Dilar Dirik: “Women’s Internationalism against Global Patriarchy”

“From the earliest rebellions in history to the first organized women’s strikes, protests and movements, struggling women have always acted in the consciousness that their resistance is linked to wider issues of injustice and oppression in society.  Whether in the fight against colonialism, religious dogma, militarism, industrialism, state authority or capitalist modernity, historically women’s movements have mobilized the experience of different aspects of oppression and the need for a fight on multiple fronts.”

Susan Buck-Morss: “Global Civil War: Solidarity by Proxy”

“In the twenty-first century any world war is a civil war, and any civil war affects the world. Does this mean the end of the Age of Revolutions, or a whole new understanding of what revolution entails?” (video)

Harrison Fluss: “Behemoth and Leviathan: The Fascist Bestiary of the Alt-Right”

“The alt-right imagination … is torn between two opposing ‘animal spirits’. These are Behemoth and Leviathan. Originating in the Bible, these beasts gained philosophical meaning in Thomas Hobbes’ political philosophy, and entered fascist thought through the writings of the Nazi jurist Carl Schmitt. … These beasts are a pair of opposites: Behemoth is autochthonous, representing the stable order of earth-bound peoples. Leviathan is thalassocratic, embodying the fluid dynamism of seafaring peoples. Behemoth signifies terrestrial empires, while Leviathan suggests commercial trade and exploration. The former stands for traditional, divinely sanctioned state authority, the latter for the spirit of pirate-capitalist enterprise (what Schmitt calls ‘corsair capitalism’). … Today, the ‘Traditionalist’ philosopher Aleksandr Dugin and the ‘neoreactionary’ philosopher Nick Land are the standard bearers of Behemoth and Leviathan, respectively. “

“How do people excluded from political life achieve political agency?”

Martin Breaugh:  The Plebeian Experience: A Discontinuous History of Political Freedom (Columbia, 2013) “identifies fleeting yet decisive instances of emancipation in which people took it upon themselves to become political subjects.”