allaninfo on Sat, 23 Jul 2011 16:04:03 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> principles of mobilisation (maybe?)

No more mediation by political parties, established or not, seems to  
be one of the new principles behind recent mobilisations. Is this the  
right way to approach political and social struggles today? How can we  
understand this?

Excerpted from Illan Rua Wall:

??? People come out and refuse the current state of the situation.  
Their anger brings them to the streets, and there they learn radical  
politics, they learn ???overthrow???. We see this in Greece (I rely  
here on a description in the latest edition of the Journal of Critical  
Globalisation by Sotirakopoulos). By the 15th of June Syntagma Square  
appeared to have divided in two, with the political ???frustrated??? in  
the lower part of the square gathering around the Free Assembly and  
the upper half of the square around the parliament seemed full of the  
???apolitical??? frustrated. The radical left feared that the majority  
of the indignants were merely there for pleasure rather than some sort  
of serious political programme. However, when the police rounded on  
the occupiers on the 15th of June, the apparently ???fluffy???  
apolitical non-violent side of the square fought back with vigour.  
They had been subjectivised in their being-together against the state  
of the situation. They were not organised, they were not trained, not  
indoctrinated. There was no party revealing the reality behind the  
ideology. There certainly was critique, argument and solidarity.  
However, these were not mediated in the traditional sense by a party  

This subjectivisation is fascinating. In Tunisia and in Egypt, we find  
a crucial example of how this works. In both countries, there was a  
huge effort to disrupt the ordinary running of the state. Variously,  
the police were restrained and the civil service were blocked from  
undertaking the ordinary workings of the state bureaucracy. But of  
course, in Tahrir Square, life continued without the police and  
without the civil service. The pre-constituted order was suspended and  
instead spaces of alegality, or of life without state (in Agamben???s  
words) were generated. Ranci??re calls this ???real??? democracy  
???where liberty and equality would no longer be represented in the  
institutions of law and state, but embodied in the very forms of  
concrete life and sensible experience??? (Hatred of Democracy p3).  
Thus, in Tunisia we find the refusal of representation coupled with  
the opening of an interval between state and life. The ???order??? of  
the state, in many instances, is suspended, and in that gap there is  
just life without law. This sense of the suspension of the state  
however, does not lead to rape, murder and civil war ??? as the  
Hobbesean myth of the state of nature suggests. In fact, it is  
precisely the attempt to once more create the obedience to the social  
contract that has lead to the most violent confrontations. In Greece,  
it strikes me that a similar event takes place. Over and again the  
people come to the squares and refuse. They refuse labour, they refuse  
representation, they refuse! In the space of this refusal an  
interstices opens, and in that space a different politics emerges.

The final point I want to make concerns that refusal. In Tunisia it  
begins with anger. The story of Mohammed Bouazizi has been told over  
and again. This is the man who set himself alight after an altercation  
with the police and a failure of response from the local government.  
Bouazizi???s situation resonated with the people. However, they were  
not just angry with bureaucracy or the police. Rather. On the streets  
they cried D??gage ??? clear out, get out. They manifested a simple  
refusal of the situation. It is not just Ben Ali but the entire  
situation. There is no attempt to reform, to work within the system,  
etc. Rather the people refuse representation. Like the characters in  
Jose Saramago???s novel Seeing, each provisional government since  
January 14th has been silenced by the simple refusal of  
representation. This refusal at once asserts the unacceptability of  
the secret police and Ben Ali???s neo-liberal reforms, but it is more  
than this as well. It is a rejection of the current positioning of the  
Tunisian populace in relation to the globalized world order. This is  
the same relation that pacifies Ireland.

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