Toward global political community?

Raul Acosta

Theoretical points

  • Political = managing collective affairs
  • Contestation reifies political collective by contesting
  • Threats of violence useful as symbols of power
  • Sense of community is ideal to strive for

Focus on socioenvironmentalism in Brazil

  • focus on sustainability, combining different forms of knowledge
  • convergence of groups: NGOs, social movements, indigenous collectives

Example of meeting to protect springs of Amazon tributary in 2004, bringing together several groups: quotes indigenous leader “We are human beings and need respect; let’s do politics and work together… but has to be for Nature… not just for river, it’s for whole of Brazil”

> relational thinking: not communitarian or individualist but connectionist (Connolly) and geared toward forming “social assemblages” that articulate collective aspirations > rather than top-down, tending to focus on

  • empowering individuals as members of collective: promoting activism to exert political pressure
  • ethical imagination: collectives generate ethical practices relationally, rather than coming from centre

Gal Levy

Recently received invitation to event intended to undermine Zionist project “Sons and daughters of Beitar Yerishalyim”

  • instead proposing “struggle community” that face-to-face, leaderless, with one foundational idea
  • example of people being called upon to be not just active (acting out existing scripts) but activist (writing scripts and creating scene) (Engin Isin makes distinction)

Brings about new version of citizenship, as theorised by Yoav Peled – “paradigm of multiple citizenship”

> Israeli citizenship has had different guises

  • republican citizenship: active citizens etc.
  • from 80s, liberal citizenship
  • ethno-national citizenship: associated with settler movement, rise of ultra-orthodox and other marginalised communities to centre
  • neoliberal citizenship: from society to community
    • Nicholas Rose: resistance initially on grounds of community but this is coopted by government, which uses as substitute for society as remedy for loneliness of modernity
    • breaks collective bargain between capital, labour and state which intended to promote growth while keeping inequality in check (Tod Gitlin)

Too soon to determine what kind of political communities there are, but possible that newly aware middle class could collaborate with lower classes to undermine system

e.g. in Israel middle class voted for someone who looked like would take care of them, but left lower class behind

Discussion

Sian Lazar: pleased that addressing class and also youth

> Gal: suspicion of middle class activists who come to visit them; also older people trying to reignite protest of youth in order to live better lives

Chris Brittain:

  • to Raul
    • puzzled by theoretical agenda – finding alternative visions but taking at face value: are there not contradictions in it?
    • “community” also invoked in his region of Canada but used to name phemonena that dying because all children leave to get jobs elsewhere > he also values these communities but doesn’t regard as alternative political force
    • is this different moral imagination only possible because communities are excluded and marginalised?
  • to Gal: could argue that settlers are progressive in that seizing power, whereas could be argued that these new movements are retrogressive in sense that “wanting to be individuals” and feeling good about selves as benefit from power

> GL: gives example of group going to house of minister, who asks who they are and they reply “we are democracy”: this is example of moment that trying to capture

 >> Chris: typically, though, when members of such movements (including Occupy) feel that not being accommodated in movement, they withdraw from these movements on individual basis

                                > Gal: no, they are trying to talk about “society” as opposed to “community”

Matyas to Raul

  • project shows brilliantly the dialectic between community-building and institution-building (which can end up as management of dissent but not necessarily)
  • what about state? trying to put up alternatives to state mechanisms or redefining relationship with state?

> Raul: churches are key structures including in workers’ movement (successful) struggle to take over state in Brazil

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