“The more we see courts and judges accept that kind of argumentation, the more serious this conflict will become because there is no recourse even to basic classical liberal precepts of freedom of speech and freedom of assembly under those conditions,” Butler said. “That is very, very frightening. Some would even say that those kinds of laws that prohibit assembly and free speech on grounds of state security are emblematic of fascism. I’m not saying we live in a fascist society, but I am saying those are the hallmarks. So it’s extremely important that these kinds of legal decisions not become normalized or accepted as reasonable. And it does mean that extra-legal forms of resistance will become more and more important.”—Feminist scholar Judith Butler foresees rising repression against protests in the western world | Vancouver, Canada | Straight.com
“The most elementary level of symbolic exchange is a so-called “empty gesture,” an offer made or meant to be rejected. Brecht gave a poignant expression to this feature in his play Jasager. in which the young boy is asked to accord freely with what will in any case be his fate (to be thrown into the valley); as his teacher explains it to him, it is customary to ask the victim if he agrees with his fate, but it is also customary for the victim to say yes. Belonging to a society involves a paradoxical point at which each of us is ordered to embrace freely, as the result of our choice, what is anyway imposed on us (we all must love our country or our parents). This paradox of willing (choosing freely) what is in any case necessary, of pretending (maintaining the appearance) that there is a free choice although effectively there isn’t one, is strictly codependent with the notion of an empty symbolic gesture, a gesture - an offer - which is meant to be rejected. Something similar is part of our everyday mores. When, after being engaged in a fierce competition for a job promotion with my closest friend, I win, the proper thing to do is to offer to retract, so that he will get the promotion, and the proper thing for him to do is to reject my offer - this way, perhaps, our friendship can be saved. What we have here is symbolic exchange at its purest: a gesture made to be rejected. The magic of symbolic exchange is that, although at the end we are where we were at the beginning, there is a distinct gain for both parties in their pact of solidarity. Of course, the problem is: what if the person to whom the offer to be rejected is made actually accepts it? What if, upon being beaten in the competition, I accept my friend’s offer to get the promotion instead of him? A situation like this is properly catastrophic: it causes the disintegration of the semblance (of freedom) that pertains to social order, which equals the disintegration of the social substance itself, the dissolution of the social link.”—Slavoj Zizek - How to Read Lacan - Empty Gestures and Performatives: Lacan Confronts the CIA Plot
Caller: Yes, good morning. Just a very broad question, Mr Keating, is: why does your government see the Aboriginal people as a much more equal people than the average white Australian?
Paul Keating: We don’t. We see them as equal.
Caller: Well, you might say that, but all the indications are that you don’t.
Paul Keating: But what’s implied in your question is that you don’t; you think that non-Aboriginal Australians, there ought to be discrimination in their favour against blacks.
Caller: Not… whatsoever. I… I don’t say that at all. But my… myself and every person I talk to - and I’m not racist - but every person I talk to…
Paul Keating: But that’s what they all say, don’t they? They put these questions - they always say, “I’m not racist, but, you know, I don’t believe that Aboriginal Australians ought to have a basis in equality with non-Aboriginal Australians. Well, of course, that’s part of the problem.
Caller: Aren’t they more equal than us at the moment, with the preferences they get?
Paul Keating: More equal? They were… I mean, it’s not for me to be giving you a history lesson - they were largely dispossessed of the land they held.
Caller: There’s a question over that. I think a lot of people will tell you that. You’re telling us one thing…
Paul Keating: Well, if you’re sitting on the title of any block of land in NSW, you can bet an Aboriginal person at some stage was dispossessed of it.
Caller: You know that for sure, do you?
Paul Keating: Of course we know it for sure! Caller: Yeah, [inaudible].
Paul Keating: You’re challenging the High Court decision, are you? You’re saying the High Court got this all wrong.
Caller: No, I’m not saying that at all! I wouldn’t know who was on the High Court.
Paul Keating: Well, why don’t you sign off, if you don’t know anything about it and you’re not interested. Good bye!
Caller: Yeah, well, that’s your …
Paul Keating: No, I mean, you can’t challenge these things and then say, “I don’t know about them”.
Hotel rooms, shopping centres, factories… Functional places are not considered places of interest. They are to be found in every city, and they are what make cities inhabitable as such. These instantly recognizable places live parallel existences around the world, each modelled on similar rules but displaying a local face. For “Ciudades Paralelas”, Lola Arias and Stefan Kaegi invited artists to devise interventions in public spaces. As observation stations for situations, the projects make stages out of public spaces used every day, and seduce the viewers into staying inside that space long enough for their perception to change: Plays that make you subjectively experience places built for anonymous crowds. The projects are staged in Berlin, Buenos Aires, Warsaw and Zurich, in each city with local performers.
Richard Sennett was 25 when his first book, The Uses of Disorder, was published in 1970. Reissued with a new preface, this prescient study of class, city life and identity celebrates the dynamism and diversity of metropolitan life and calls for an urban renaissance. He castigates the middle classes for retreating to the “secure cocoons” of the suburbs: “Suburbanites are people who are afraid to live in a world they cannot control.” In their flight to the more socially homogeneous suburbs, people are choosing a morally and psychologically impoverished environment. Only in “dense, disorderly, overwhelming cities”, with their rich mix of different classes, ethnicities and cultures, do we learn the true complexity of life and human relations: “The jungle of the city, its vastness and loneliness, has a positive human value.” Sennett speaks eloquently of the benefits to individuals and society of diverse, even “anarchic”, urban communities. His argument remains powerful and relevant, an inspiration to a new generation of urbanists.