Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Autonomous Politics and its Problems - Thinking the Passage from Social to Political - by Ezequiel Adamovsky

Autonomous Politics and its Problems
Thinking the Passage from Social to Political
by Ezequiel Adamovsky

today, a small group of people or even one person has bigger chances than ever to affect that normal course if they/he wants to. Like never before, a single person has the chance to affect the lives of millions and to cause chaos. Why is this the case today more than in the past? Let us consider an example: if a peasant in 17th century France decided not to farm his land, he would not be putting his neighbors' lives in jeopardy, but only his own. Imagine that he was angry or mad, and set out to impede his neighbors to harvest. In that case, the community would deal with him very soon; in the worst scenario, he might affect one or two of his neighbors. Fast forward to any country in the 21st century. If the three operators of the subway security system decide not to work (or to mess with the system just for fun), or if this important guy from the stock exchange lies about the prospects of AOL, they would be affecting the lives and labors of thousands of people, without those people even knowing the reason for the accident they had, or the loss of their jobs. The paradox is that the ever increasing individualism and lack of answerability before the other makes it more likely than ever before that, in fact, there will be people who will be ready to cause trouble or harm other people's lives and interests, even without good reasons. Ask the students of Columbine about that. Our mutual dependence in some respects paradoxically contrasts with our subjectivity of isolated, non-answerable individuals.

As people who live in this constitutive tension, we all feel to some extent the anxiety for the continuity of social order and of our own lives, in view of the vulnerability of both. We unconsciously know that we depend on other individuals doing the right thing; but we don't know who they are, or how to communicate with them. They are close but alien at the same time. This is the same anxiety that popular movies enact once and again in hundreds of films whose narrative structure and themes are almost the same. A person or a small group of people puts society or other people's lives in jeopardy -be it because of evilness, criminal orientation, madness, strange political reasons, you name it- until some powerful intervention restores order -a caring father, Superman, the police, the President, Charles Bronson, etc. As a movie-goer we come out with our anxiety sedated, but that comfort only lasts for some minutes…


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