Filed under journal | Tags: · activism, disobedience, occupy movement, philosophy, politics, protest, resistance, theory
“Some of the most prominent theories of civil disobedience, e.g. those of Rawls and Habermas, highlight its primarily or even exclusively symbolic character. This, however, seems to reduce civil disobedience to a purely moral appeal. On a theoretical as well as on a practical level we are today faced with the question whether civil disobedience requires a moment of real confrontation for it to be politically effective. It seems that civil disobedience does in fact have an irreducible symbolic dimension, but that it cannot be reduced to this dimension, because without moments of real confrontation it would also lose its symbolic power and turn into a mere appeal to the conscience of the powers that be. The articles in this special section highlight various of the challenges and possibilities the theory and practice of civil disobedience is confronted with today, from the question whether Paraguayan campesinos have a right of necessity also to uncivil actions via the political potential of the apparently criminal behaviour of marginalized migrants and the effects of ‘hermeneutic invisibility’ on the public nature of civil disobedience to the effects rise of ‘art activism’ on the relation between the social and the artistic and the situatedness of the bodies of protesters in relation to changing police tactics.
In ‘The Misadventures of Critical Thinking’ Jacques Rancière explores the anti-emancipatory effect of an artistic and theoretical critique that specializes in unmasking how all attempts at critique are always already anticipated and incorporated by ‘the system’, suggesting that we should instead focus on what he calls ‘scenes of dissensus’. As Joost de Bloois argues in his comment on Rancière’s text, however, this analysis might not only underestimate the complexity of this unmasking critique, it also seems to run into some of the same problems it diagnoses.
In our interview with Wendy Brown we discuss the emancipatory potential as well as the theoretical and political limits of the notions of democracy and communism, the paranoid practice of walling with which states seem to compensate their waning sovereignty, the Occupy movement and the danger of Oedipalization, the varieties of secularism, and the responsibility of teaching.”
Published in Amsterdam, 2012
via Jappe Groenendijk