“This paper explores in what ways creative protest could deepen democracy. I argue that creative political protest nurtures democracy by generating a peaceful culture of resistance and by providing a peaceful way of responding to politics of intolerance and polarization.”
Category Archives: performance
‘Min is an artist. For her, this is one of the most unappreciated aspects of black bloc as a style. It’s tactical, and practical, and it’s also an art form with the effect of building solidarity long after the boots go into the closet. The experience of being enveloped in anonymity helps retain the movement’s ideology, after the balaclavas get folded up and stacked in the drawer. “In spheres where we don’t have uniforms, we really embrace individuality,” Min said. “But black bloc creates a feeling of ‘Who you are is who I am.’ Of ‘It doesn’t matter who I am when we’re fighting together.’”’
‘When Colin Kaepernick and his allies “take a knee,” they adopt a pose drawn from the lexicon of 18th– and 19th-century abolitionism. … Taking a knee cuts the white emancipator from the frame and thereby creates something new: an abolition image.’
“Still, what has protest done for us lately? Smartphones and social media are supposed to have made organizing easier, and activists today speak more about numbers and reach than about lasting results. Is protest a productive use of our political attention? Or is it just a bit of social theatre we perform to make ourselves feel virtuous, useful, and in the right?”
‘Militant anti-fascist or “antifa” (pronounced ANtifa) is a radical pan-leftist politics of social revolution applied to fighting the far right. Its adherents are predominantly communists, socialists and anarchists who reject turning to the police or the state to halt the advance of white supremacy. Instead they advocate popular opposition to fascism as we witnessed in Charlottesville.’
Review of an exhibition: “A cultural infrastructure supporting the new [1960s] art grew. Revolution-minded galleries, bookstores and presses opened in African-American neighborhoods. … But despite its intense motivational energy, ‘Black Power’ as a movement foundered. … Rival factions, driven by ideologies or personalities, came to blows. The United States government subjected movement participants to unrelenting surveillance and attack. A misogynist streak in the movement, as in American society in general, held firm. The single most universal sign of solidarity, black-is-beautiful fashion, was absorbed by the market, including the entertainment industry, and reduced to commercial fodder, a process already at work in the new protest culture today.”
The power of artists in assemblism: “As artists, we are not in power, but through morphology we give power: we give form to power. The practice of assemblism that we can derive from [Judith Butler’s Notes Towards a Performative Theory of Assembly] opens up the possibility of a new collectivity arising from the precariat—a new Us with the potential to shatter the Us/Them divide that has brought the new authoritarian world order into being. Embedding our artistic practice within social movements, we can help formulate the new campaigns, the new symbols, and the popular poetry needed to bolster the emergence of a radical collective imaginary. In that process, we can also begin to devise the new infrastructures—the parallel parliaments, the stateless embassies, the transdemocratic unions—needed to establish the institutions that will make a new emancipatory governance a reality. Our time as assemblists is now.”
On “masculinist gay fascism:” the historical connections between fascism and homosexuality.
Coghlan’s book Sensational Internationalism: The Paris Commune and the Remapping of American Memory in the Long Nineteenth Century (2016) recovers the now largely forgotten story of the Paris Commune’s spectacular afterlife as specter and spectacle in late-nineteenth and early-twentieth-century American culture.
Plotting the story of the revolution as telling the story of our present: “We live in the world that the age of revolutions created. The institutions and the myths it originated still structure the political life of most of the world’s people. So when we tell the story of the revolutionary era, choosing one way or another to narrate it, we are also shaping the story we tell ourselves about politics in the present.”