Siraj Izhar | publiclife on Fri, 17 Jul 2020 14:06:59 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> re. "Consume revolutionary media"

I read this with fascination thanks. My first thought with the slogan was why Consume? and not, Produce revolutionary media. Other than knowing that nothing can be consumed if not first produced by some-one's prior effort/labour. So it furthers a cycle?

The slogan then reminded me (inversely) of the May 68 slogan 'Do Not Consume Marx' from Daniel Singer's book on 68. From a chapter that ironically starts with, "They propose nothing and respect nothing. They are vandals who can only destroy...." So at least these recognisable charges (with monument destruction and cancel culture today) have very recent precedents in the cycle of our time. Maybe between the two slogans is the paradigm shift we have to recognise.

But reading the whole text thenraises a lot of questions - to list a few:

1  > re. Over and over again, the voices of the protest leaders have
said that we must concretely change society, its laws, its economic
functions, its moral and ethical norms, and above all, its current
hierarchy as manifested through the racially unequal distributions of goods and bads.

What could be so fundamentally different this time round? Other than that it is now an unprecedented attack, in Trump's America, specifically on the equation 'Western civilisation = whiteness' (that Trump laid so bare)? Along withthe colonial present the equation maintains by its renewal. That this isn't only about a civil rights movement now, it's gone beyond that, surely a different scale/nature of movement? We expected the pandemic to produce a 'new normal' - whatever its shape - but BLM wasn't an expected pathway for the greater narratives of Revolution with a capital R.

2     the pandemic has clearly placed the State order politically in a heteronomy. Whichas Rousseau or Kant would describe is the state of being under some external force or domination so that normal rules and regulations just can not apply or be enforced. That's Covid-19+BLM providentially. Something civilizational, something non-negotiableis forced to give way because of this heteronomy - which BLM is driving through with a demographic and political momentum in the US.

3 Black Lives Matter June opened upa sort of counter-transference in racial consciousness that could only happen under duress (in a heteronomy) - an unparalleled scrutiny of 'whiteness'. White privilege, white fragility etc. Unfortunate viral hashtags. Asort of fourth wave of analysis to use that metaphor from the essay, The future of whiteness: a map of the ‘third wave’ by France Winddance Twine and Charles Gallagher. That seems a really relevant read at this moment for a structural transformation.

4     Will Europe be an affect of this process in America?
What took place in London and across Britain over June drew its energy across the Atlantic; whilst BLM had a sort of 'apolitical' media pass June 2020. We can say that ended when the BBC banned all BLM badges from its screens 29th June. Consumption in that old medium of what was revolutionary material by normal standards became more moderated. Over the lockdown period, stop and searches by the Police increased from 27,000 to 30,000. The Hostile environment is firmly there in the first immigration bill of Brexit Britain announced this week. There is a reactionary right mobilisation under way. Not merely in the casting of BLM as cancel culture, Marxists etc. I eavesdrop into a few Right Wing lists.
These are times of contradictory dynamics.

5    But it's certainly an active time to strategise locally in London. Out of the pandemic lockdown there is a new world and its social demographic. The last protest in London on the scale of BLM 6 and 7th June 2020 was the XR (Extinction Rebellion) global fortnight of action in October 2019. The landscape has changed since. It has really helped that XR have now added the Fourth Demand to their manifesto - racial justice, reparations as key to climate justice which the XR European chapters are still adopting.

In east London we see XR and other groups at meetings they have not attended before with a mutual upscaling of ambition. There is a strong generational core to this synergy - Gen Z and then millennials - and they are more alive, more empowered than ever before because of the pandemic.The new creative space of resistance lies there. In movements like BLM and XR as projects that go beyond institutional politics, the structures of colonial ordering and environmental apocalypse.

Within different (racialised or not) community groups,the young are not pressured on whether BLM represents them, or are even meant to but just identify with the force, the zeitgeist of change -i.e. a chance for their communities. Just the words Black Lives Matter suffice. As a cipher? For collective leaderless rebellion. Strange to experience this and recall old schoolintersectionalities of the 80s, 90s - Black and White Unite and Fight, Rock against Racism, Movement for Justice etc. Everything was all there, the words the symbols, the social bases but this is another fight now with  a different awareness. That the orders we are in - the States, the democracies, the police - will not be able to prevent catastrophe, that they can't "help seven billion people coordinate their efforts for one last chance."
Unless they are placed in another more severe heteronomy - forced to.
If we can at last recognise that, we can also recognise that rebellion is the most urgent form of creativity today? i.e. the form of the rebellion.

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