During the last two decades we have become familiar with new forms of protest. These new types of protest direct their discontent towards the system in ways that involve the general public, trying to affect change by spreading the feeling of discontent so that governments succumb to wider pressure. These forms of protest are radically different from a strike at a factory or a mine in that they do not affect only those immediately involved – e.g. the owner of a business or multinational companies and government bodies. To a certain extent radical forms of protest such as rioting and looting share this principle. More recently, the Tottenham riots (London, UK) led to widespread looting of retail stores and were heavily criticized for being driven by consumerist desire. This was the view propagated by the media, government officials and surprisingly by leading voices of the left (Bauman, Žižek, Hall). Although we should not be hasty in dismissing looting, we should question the nature of the tactics of any forms of protest that allow themselves to become suspiciously linked with consumerist desire. This is so, because the claim that a desire for goods is the overriding determining factor here aims precisely at deflating the political significance of these riots. By employing Alain Badiou’s model of Ethics we are in a position to deal with the root of the problem: what allows for riots that involve looting to be susceptible to the Evils (privations) posed by the accusations of being associated with consumerist desire? What does a public unrest of this nature need in order to avoid ideological demeaning (accusations of consumerist desire) and sustain their fidelity to revolutionary Truth?
Edited by Euripides Altintzoglou and Martin Fredriksson
As the goals and aspirations of protesters across the world are becoming more heterogonous and less programmatic it becomes increasingly hard to say what ‘the protester’ wants and where ‘the revolution’ will take us. This book makes no attempts to answer that question. On the contrary it embraces the ambiguity and heterogeneity of contemporary protest movements, pointing to how the potentials of revolutionary acts reside behind seemingly irrelevant, disorganized outbursts of apparently aimless acts. Giving meaning to the sign carried by one of the protesters at the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations in Zucotti Park, saying: ‘We’re here; we’re unclear; get used to it’