In a fascinating article in the latest edition of Radical Philosophy on the ‘politics of the encounter’, Andy Merrifield, author of Magical Marxism: Subversive Politics and the Imagination, speculates on how the inspiration of the Occupy movement can form the basis for a systemic challenge to the existing order:
With the emergence of the worldwide ‘Occupy’ movement, at last there seems something we can write home about, something we can celebrate, salute, support. We can even don the mask ourselves, join in, grin that mischievous and devilish Guy Fawkes grin and affirm our own phantom-faced defiance of big money and big business. Behind the disguise, behind that anonymity, demonstrators everywhere have revealed their true identity, and revealed their numbers: ‘We are the 99 per cent’. Indignados have shown to the world that masses of people share the same sense of frustration and rage: enough is enough. ‘V’ is for Vengeance.
Like a lot of urbanists, I’ve also been fascinated by what this means for urban politics. From Tahrir Square to Plaza del Sol, from Syntagma Square to Tottenham’s streets, from Zuccotti Park to St Paul’s Cathedral, the city has seemingly become the critical zone in which new forms of ‘occupational’ protest unfold. ‘Right to the city’ or somethingelse? If something else, what else? The global sway of Wall Street and City of London decision-makers has been called into question, contested, by collective bodies in the public realm; this at a time when an inexorable shift of the human population into urban agglomerations has occurred and when the city region is now viewed as the fundamental unit of economic development and potential environmental collapse. The occupations are politically stimulating, yet theoretically tricky to unravel, especially if one wears an urban cap at the same time as a Guy Fawkes mask.
Visit Radical Philosophy to download a full PDF version of the article.
Subversive Politics and the Imagination
Breathes new life into the Marxist tradition, applying previously unexplored approaches that reveal vital new modes of political activism and debate.
“Andy Merrifield is original, erudite, politically alive and readable. And above all, this book will be (in strictly the first sense of the term) thought-provoking!” – John Berger, novelist and critic
“Andy Merrifield brings us a Marxism that is ‘warmer’ than most recent forms, Marxism as it might have been imagined by DH Lawrence or one of the great Latin American novelists. He wants us to reimagine Marxism without bureaucracy and without commissars. If we can get deep into the ideas themselves, they can be a life force for us. Andy helps us see how Marxism can make us more authentic human beings.” – Marshall Berman, author of All that is Solid Melts into Air