Tag: Civil Disobedience

Letters on Legal Architecture

Correspondence between a lawyer and an architect on how, amongst other things, architecture embodies the law. FIRST LETTER (New York on July 12th 2012) /// Dear Lucy, I read your essay Archiving Burroughs: Interzone, Law, Self-Medication with attention and appreciated, as usual, the way you manage to link narrative, law and space all together. I do…

Art as Disobedience: Liberate Tate’s Gift to the Nation

This weekend was an eventful one for the Tate Modern.  Late Saturday morning, pursuant to section 7 of the Museums and Galleries Act 1992, art collective Liberate Tate presented the gallery with an unexpected ‘gift to the nation’.  That gift was a 1.5 tonne, 16.5 metre wind turbine blade, recovered from a field in Wales,…

Civil Disobedience — Between Symbolic Politics and Real Confrontation

Some consider civil disobedience too radical; an attempt to procure political power under the mantle of moral principles or a one-sided renunciation of the duty to obey and uphold the law, and that is not to be tolerated. Citizens in functioning democracies must limit themselves to the legally sanctioned possibilities available to them for expressing dissenting views and influencing the political process. From this perspective, civil disobedience is little more than political blackmail. Others consider it an impotent expression of a reformist yearning for cosmetic changes within the given system; as a socially permissible and harmless protest of well-intentioned citizens that remains purely symbolic and only contributes to stabilizing prevailing relationships.

This essay attempts to show that both of these widespread views fail to fully address the specific characteristics of civil disobedience as a genuinely political and democratic practice of contestation. To present these specifics in detail, it is first necessary to define civil disobedience. Second, I situate this form of political practice between the opposing poles of symbolic politics and real confrontation. In a closing remark, I briefly examine the role of civil disobedience in representative democracies.

Anomie: On civil and democratic disobedience

Greek Minister for Public Transport Reppas stated last week that the government will not let ‘Greece exposed to the risk of international disrepute and marginalization, destinations of countries characterized by anomie. The attack on the social acceptability of the free-rider and the political dismantling of its simulacrum of progressiveness is paramount.’ The harassed minister was…