David Garcia on Sat, 15 Aug 2020 07:20:43 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> notes on cancel culture

Rather than disappearing entirely down the rabbit hole of definitions and interpretations, uses and misuses of 
the term “cancel culture” 

I wanted to risk returning to Garry Hall’s earlier cautionary remarks about my uncritical use of "terms and concepts like ‘argument’, 
‘careful judgement’, ‘knowledge’, ‘democracy’, ‘public’ as datum points in this way is itself a form of affective politics that 
‘“precedes debate, precedes argument, precedes speech”’? In which he suggested that that it "Might too, be a ‘decisionism’, 
“an acting out or performance of some prior act of identification”’ 

Gary reminds us of Chantal Mouffe’s questioning of what it is to be political, when its "a political decision always 
takes place in an "undecidable terrain” in which as Gary argues "social relations are not fixed or natural, but rather the product 
of hegemonic articulations: that is, of contingent yet temporary decisions involving power and conflict.” 

The question I want to ask is, what happens to politics if it no longer involves deciding on more or less valid contributions to public
knowledge ? Thats not a request for a narrow positivist empiricism or a wish to return to established epistemic hierarchies. It means 
instead establishing (in the words of digital sociologist Noortje Marres) "a central role in public life for experimental facts: 
statements whose truth value is unstable”. 

I think this takes us to spaces that include but go beyond the power question alone and the endless recursive loop of asking: but whose in 
charge? And the insistence that first of all we must choose a “side”. Come on Us or Them ? Whether this should be default or primary 
register of our political discourse in the face of complex existential problems is the position I wanted to question. 


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