Douzinas: Contemporary politics aims at marginal (re)distributions of benefits, rewards and positions without challenging the established order. In this sense, politics resembles the marketplace or a town hall debate where rational consensus about public goods can be reached. Conflict has been pronounced finished, passé, impossible. The convergence of political parties in the centre ground exemplifies this 'conflict-free' approach. But conflict does not disappear. Neo-liberal capitalism increases inequality and fuels conflict. When social conflict cannot be expressed politically, it becomes criminality and xenophobia, terrorism and intolerance. Or a reactive violence, the emotional response of those invisible to the political system. In the Greek case, antagonism resulted from the tension between the structured social body with its political representatives and groups, causes and interests radically excluded from the political order. Huge numbers of people cannot formulate their demands in the language of politics. The protesters do not say, "I want this or that" but simply, "Here we are, we stand against"...We all see the world through theory that becomes common sense, becoming no more aware of the underpinning of that common sense than a snake of its skin - until its sloughed - or a fish of water - until its on the bank. Theory disappeared under the cloak of TINA. Discredited theories - Newtonian, Marxist, Keynesian - have remained visible and the efforts of creationists to get intelligent design into the science curriculum requires us to do more than rely on received wisdom about the probability of evolution. We must understand a theory to rebut its detractors. I don't understand current theories of government well enough to defend, refine or abandon what I've taken for granted.
Douzinas: No political organisation directed the insurrection, no single ideology motivated it, no overwhelming demand was put forward. The persistent question, "What do the kids want?" often led to the conclusion that the events were not political because they could not be integrated into existing analytical frameworks. What seemed to unite the protesters was a refusal: "No more, enough is enough." A stubborn negativity characterised the insurrection. Is this a new type of politics after the decay of democracy?Jonathan Davies, Associate Professor (Reader) of Public Policy Public Management and Policy Group at Warwick Business School has been asking question about the ‘network orthodoxy’, developing and refining criticisms of the 'regime-theoretical conception' of governance. J sees matters of class being ignored or reduced to a taxonomy of types familiar to marketing analysts. He's been picking through what he sees as the dysfunctional dynamics of networked urban governance in the UK. He speaks of the almost triumphal way social theorists have celebrated the network society where hierarchy has been succeeded by heterarchy with power dispersed across interdependent agencies, and interests, rather than being held by a dominant class. In so far as anyone is left out of this social arrangement, they can be saved - it is perhaps far too casually assumed - by various assimilative measures. My comment on Douzinas' article:
"The possibility of changing the rules of what counts as political". This strikes me as the key point you are leading to - also changing our understanding of what we are seeing in Greece and if you are right, elsewhere. Comments shuttle between keyboard colonels and keyboard liberals, between vexation and venom and, as you observe, 'incredulity'. incomprehension and puzzlement as to what is demanded, wanted, desired? Where I've been asking are the politics? It looks too much like street therapy. You argue that 'these events were not political because they could not be integrated into existing analytical frameworks; and ask if "this (is) a new type of politics after the decay of democracy?". That intrigues me. Are you saying that the powers that be within our current polity have become so skilled at assimilating, diffusing, dispersing, tranquilising, co-opting, and suppressing demands that can't be met, that what we are seeing is a form of political expression that evades articulating demands that can be absorbed? This sounds counter-intuitive - but then most new ideas are. Please elaborate. Take us through your reasons for thinking democracy has 'decayed', rather than being the familiar flawed form of government that just about survives because we can't invent anything better. Perhaps, as recession familiarises more here with the enormous and widening rift between rich and poor in other places, the expressions we see in Greece will spread, a new spectre demonstrating your thesis that there's something rotten rather than merely flawed in our present condition. Are we struggling to manage the symptoms of a political illness current expertise has, as yet, failed to diagnose?Professor Douzinas has also argued that human rights, rather than providing a moral and legal framework for challenging and regulating the actions of the powerful, have become their ideological tool. * * * The Birmingham Mainline was iced up completely. At Gas Street and along the Birmingham Worcester the ice was broken by a few narrow boats on the move, but I had the towpath to myself this morning. * * * Finally saw This is England just before Christmas - the most honourable film I've seen in the year, talented acting, intrepid plot, ghastly and cruel, yet worth all for its writer's and actors' integrity. At last people I recognise and Lin used to teach - and a document of the consequences of certain policies and attitudes in the 1980s; effects whose trajectory I experience and see every day - the pity and the waste.
‘Depravity in the oppressed is no apology for the oppressor; but rather an additional stigma to him, as being in large degree, the effect, and not the cause and justification of oppression’ Herman Melville, Chapter 14 White Jacket[In a roundabout way I stumbled on this reaction to This is England as well as a link to a portal to more on urban food growing - thanks to Nick Booth, Podnosh]