Tag: contentious politics

Tempo, Protest, and Emergency Ethnography in the Trump Moment

This is a guest post by Dr. Sherrill Stroschein, Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor) in Politics, Department of Political Science, University College London

We have all been driven to understand what is going on over the past few days. Some of these discussions would be improved with lesser-used tools to think more systematically about events. There are three approaches that can help to do this that have had less exposure than they should.

Continue reading

Contentious Politics and Ducks: China Edition

In case you don’t know, the PRC has censored searches for “Big Yellow Duck.” The reason?

tiananmenduck

 

You can see a larger version here. Continue reading

The soundtrack of barbarism…

…sounds something like this.

Why are these urban riots happening on this side of the pond?

Predictably, two strong lines of argument are forming. Both of which can be supported from that interview.

The ‘mere criminality’ school finds that these youths are robbing and looting out of sheer, brutal opportunism. Whereas the ‘material deprivation’ school sees these riots as the upsurge of social distress, misdirected political rage and alienation in the wake of government cuts to social services, the widening gap between rich and poor, etc.

Who is right?

A strong case could be made that the causes have come in waves. This whole thing kicked off from what was supposed to be a peaceful protest against a police shooting. That is, it began in political form. (‘Political’ here meaning an attempt to challenge or defend the use, distribution or possession of power in a fundamental way, rather than the fleeting local redistribution of power through robbery).

But then, after the first night’s riot, the word got out that people could rob and burn because they could get away with it. And they were right. Whatever the root causes of mob behaviour, this is clearly not a wild outburst of political rage, like some riots have been historically. It has much more to do with raw calculations about power and opportunity. Most groups are not randomly burning down bookstores or MP’s offices, but are prioritising phone stores, clothing outlets and banking machines. The two girls paid lip service to ‘getting rich people’, with the bemusing idea that anyone who owns a shop counts as wealthy, but the spirit of their activities is clearly a sense of exhilaration and pleasure.

Putting it another way, consider this savage little episode. Even if we acknowledge that government cuts have made people angry, its a stretch to argue that as this youth pitilessly robbed a wounded young man, his driving force was distress caused by financial reductions in 2010 to local libraries and youth recreation centers.

I’d be willing to bet that had he been confronted with similar circumstances in sunnier economic times in 2007, or 2005, he would have acted similarly. He and his ilk do not seem to be voicing substantive political outrage about class conflict or injustice, but are exalting in their newfound street power.

But is this behaviour still linked to underlying inequalities, to the disturbing social fact that many of these folk seem not to believe they have a stake in an orderly society? Quite possibly. But I’m just a bit skeptical that its really ‘because’ of recent cuts to services more than very remotely. Conservative moral panics are not the only superficial response to this problem.

Creeping Reasonableness

I’ve been wondering when the Locke/Demosthenes effect would manifest itself through the faux political rivalry of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. Could this be their moment?

Stewart on the need to return to a deliberative ethic in American democracy – best if viewed starting @ 2:10 below:

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Rally to Restore Sanity
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Tea Party

Colbert’s response @ 3:54 below:

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
March to Keep Fear Alive
www.colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full Episodes 2010 Election Fox News

David Carr writes:

In a sense, the pair from Comedy Central are a postmodern response to a modern media universe.

His round-up of insights on the politicization of satire and satirization of the political include the following:

Kurt Andersen, the novelist and host of public radio’s “Studio 360,” called Mr. Stewart’s rally for civility “a milestone in this arc of increasing entanglement between show business and politics. The current media condition is not just more power. It’s nuclear power, and we don’t really know where we are going with it,” he said.

“Stewart and Colbert are awkwardly transitioning from media figures to political figures with an understanding that there may not be that much difference anymore,” said Michael Hirschorn, a writer and a producer of a number of reality shows.

My modest prediction regarding this twin set of rallies: Stewart’s will draw a significant number of moderates, for precisely the reasons he hopes, but Colbert’s will also draw Americans on both the far left and far right. If so, that will be an interesting pot in which deliberative democracy can, momentarily, stew – and I wonder what exactly they’re planning to stir it with come the day.

Hope to see you there on October 30th at 8:00 a.m.!

© 2018 Duck of Minerva

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑