“In Between”: a meta-political altersation about activism

The Sewers welcomes and congratulates this Altersation between Anarchist Philosopher Persona (A.P) and The Just Protester Persona (TJP) about ‘ethical consumerism’, activism and the royal wedding.  

Anarchist Philosopher (A.P): hey Tervor, how are you? are you still down and depressed, with your fake online activism and all that comes with it?

Just Protester Persona (TJP): wow yeah, a couple of months ago that would’ve pissed me off, y’know? But I’m beyond that now. I mean every activism is kinda fake, y’know?

A.P: what does that mean?

TJP: I mean it’s like in the way you perceive things, we can’t all choose to act the same way about what we believe in.

A.P: alright, but that doesn’t necessarily put things on the same level, it doesn’t make everything ‘fake’ –

TJP: I didn’t say everything was fake. You said it. So if you say this kind of activism is ‘fake’, what would you say is ‘real’ activism?

A.P: well, obviously, fundamentally, I’d say ‘real activism’ would be applicable and consistent within one’s political stance, and that it should have characteristics that stand out and above regular and regulated public actions. And of course, it should be truly public, that goes without saying.

TJP:  So according to this the fucking royal wedding was an act of activism.

A.P: oh, in fact, it really was. That’s a very good observation! It truly was, in the sense that –

TJP: what the fuck? all this philosophizing to death about definitions and shit is the real fake activism –

A.P: philosophy is not activism, I never tried to say it was, it provides the basis for it, the fundamentals –

TJP: fine, whatever. So what’s real activism?

A.P: I think we were initially talking about what oppositional activism is, and that wasn’t made clear. Or transformative activism, some would say. The royal wedding was of course neither, it was more of a public reinstating of power and capital.

TJP: For sure. it was just another display of cultural and social constructionism into money, love and marriage combined, for sure. But it wasn’t activism. I get what you’re saying about how activism should be a stand out public action, and I believe in the past social media did provide a platform for acts that can be defined this way. But I think social media is no longer really public. I mean it is, for sure, but its so called public aspect has only a private effect on reality.

A.P: alright, how do you mean?

TJP: I mean social media has become just another sphere of our personal private lives. And the way it’s used for expressing political opinions has turned our political discourse into something that is also private and personal, as part of its ongoing destruction caused by identity politics. And it’s like fucking genius if you think about it. You’re led to believe you’re expressing yourself outwards, when you’re actually virtually jerking off with people who are as comfortable agreeing with you as they are disagreeing with you.

A.P: well… that is very… so in this sense, you’re not an online activist anymore?

TJP: I don’t know what it fucking means anymore, that’s what I’m saying. So that’s why I’m thinking about what ‘real’ activism is. I guess I’m asking: what a public action actually is? coz it’s like I’m not sure anymore.

A.P: that’s a very good question, in fact. I ask this question about how I live my life as well. Living in an anarchist commune is also, some would say, not a public action. It’s private, it’s personal. It’s a personal choice. And it’s very tempting, of course, at this point in the conversation, to start asking whether living your life fully in the light of your ideals and political ideas and understandings is an activist act in itself, or whether, on a more strict definition, it still isn’t public enough.

TJP: I’m not sure I fully get it, but yeah, I mean you totally make fun of ‘ethical consumerism’, and we’ve been through this before, but I mean isn’t it kinda the same? I mean that’s what I meant when I said it’s about how you perceive things. If you’re talking about ending capitalism tomorrow morning, then yeah, the idea of ‘ethical consumerism’ is meaningless. But if you’re talking about what you can do, as just a person who wants to live according to his or her beliefs, then, y’know, then what?

A.P: alright, of course. But that is why I said it was tempting to talk about activism in terms of living one’s life in compliance with one’s beliefs. But that’s not the right way, that’s not an efficient or sufficient way, to define activism or to even talk about activism. And you mentioned identity politics. In this sense, talking about activism as a way of living your life, as in a way of what can be even called ‘a life style’, is also part of identity politics.

TJP: totally. Yeah. For sure. So that’s why I said all activism is fake. That’s how I meant it.

A.P: but now, again, we have to ask what actual activism should look like today. Because we have a sense of what it looked like before: it was out in the streets, it was facing police and state violence, it was facing arrest or death. And I think the question that arises today is should current activism look like that, like it did before, or should it be completely different. What you said about social media channeling these social forces into meaningless rants reveals what your opinion about it is.

TJP: yeah?

A.P: yes, I think so. As in a sublimation of undermining and revolutionary forces.

TJP: fuck, I guess. So you’re saying it should look the same as it did before social media? and does that mean you’re not a real activist either?

A.P: perhaps we shouldn’t try to define ourselves. Perhaps it’s also part of identity politics. and maybe, in a sense, just saying this is participating in identity politics already?

TJP: huh?

A.P: exactly.

TJP: so we just don’t fucking know what we are and what the fuck we’re doing.

A.P: well, no. we do know. We have a sense of it. It’s just not put in words yet, but there’ll be words for it once it takes some sort of form, some sort of shape. We’re just in between now. In between paradigms.

TJP: or maybe we’re not in between. Maybe we’re right near the end of fucking everything.

A.P: well, to be honest, even if we are, that still doesn’t excuse us from defining and acknowledging our actions. And if we are, we’re still in between in a sense. In between now and the end.

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