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For this reason we will have to come to terms with the fact that, in order to talk about real life politics, we have to supplement the supplement; that is to say, we have to add to the Arendtian category of public happiness further categories, whether we like these categories or not, that allow for a more precise und comprehensive understanding of political acting.

In a quasi-transcendental sense one may speak about the minimal conditions of politics, conditions that allow us to discern a political form of dance from its communal form, e. Even though there is no space here to develop a more extensive argument, which I have tried to work out elsewhere, some of these minimal conditions can be detected phenomenologically in the most modest political activities such as lap-dancing. This is a necessary condition simply for the reason that every political act will face resistance by other political actors, and every actor will act on a terrain entrenched by dissymmetries of power and subordination, which in turn necessitates a strategic approach in order to take on these relations or to find your way around them.

For the same reason, political activism does have goals , contrary to what Arendt says about the difference between acting and fabricating, where the former is supposed to have its end in itself. Nobody would ever start acting politically if it was only for the sake of acting. This is not to contradict everything Arendt said about public happiness, but it is to supplement her account. There is no acting that does not entail, in Arendtian terms, aspects of making or fabricating, i.

Second condition: The political actor is never an individual, it is a collective that assembles to stage a protest.


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A person dancing alone in darkness and in private does not stage a protest. And the reason for this, third condition, is simply that a community of protest can only be established through confrontational means. These means do not have to imply physical violence, but there will always be an aspect of symbolic violence involved. But if we supplement the Arendtian account with the category of antagonism as a necessary condition for the establishment of every political togetherness, then it follows that antagonism will also be a necessary condition for the emergence of a public sphere.

A public sphere opens wherever the routines, institutions and identities of our social world are touched by antagonism. Antagonism can be performed through peaceful dancing. We may just think of the case of Reclaim the Streets , a successful international protest format, particularly in the s, with roots in the English free rave party scene of the late 80s and of the anti-road protest. The initial idea was to turn areas reserved for traffic into a communal public space by staging dance events on the streets.

There was sometimes a rather regressive communitarian undercurrent encapsulated in the fantasy of ruralizing the urban sphere of the city which, in my view, also undermined the political edge of the movement. In all these diverse cases, a similar logic can be determined.

The gap between Cause and goal

A temporary public sphere is created performatively by way of obstructing the sphere of circulation. Every staging of antagonism involves such a blockage, and very similar to the case of a labour strike where the circulation of goods and services is blocked within the economic sphere or a consumer boycott where the consumption of goods is blocked , in the case of street protest it is the circulation of traffic which is blocked through, in this case, dancing. It is this blockading effect in which we detect a fourth condition for public space to emerge where, before, there was only an urban traffic space.

So far, I have outlined four conditions that eventually turn out to be conditions for the creation of every public sphere through protest: strategy, collectivity, conflictuality, and the blockade of streams of circulation. I would like to add a fifth condition which is of particular importance for street protest, even though it may appear self-evident, perhaps even trivial. The human body is the most important medium through which a public space is curved out of the social.

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Of course, this does not always have to occur in form of a militarized collective marching in-sync through the streets. Taking this word of caution into account, we may define street protest as the collective and embodied activity of blocking streams of circulation whereby a line of conflict is drawn through social space. And it is only along such a line of conflict that a public in the true sense of the word emerges. One may just think of the often times carefully planned routes of street demonstrations and of deviations from these routes through police intervention.

We therefore have to differentiate between two dimensions of public protest: the larger protest choreography by which urban space is refigured through demonstration practices; and the protest politics incorporated by individuals and inscribed into their bodies. Let us try and apply the conceptual apparatus developed above to two particular examples not so much of dancing politics than of political dance.

At these parades demonstrators faced not only the most vulgar verbal insults by passers-by, they were even exposed to physical violence by organized neo-fascists. Until today, one may add, Pride parades have been immensely contentious in some Eastern European countries. In the West, though, these parades, from the very moment of their invention, are famous for having integrated dance into their carnevalesque protest repertoire. Being a visual artist himself, he set out to collaborate with dancers and choreographers in order to restage the original protest event. What they did was not simply imitating the bodily movements of violent protest.

Rather, they dissected the movements and translated the resulting elements into a choreography in which a single dancer may incorporate gestures of both sides, sometimes within a single flow of movement. Then all four dancers would reassemble and, in a more obvious or recognizable way, stage bodily movements that, if only remotely, bring to mind the original clashes. Some might object that this work has nothing to do with art performance in public space, as it is clearly situated intra muros , i. Nevertheless, it remains of interest for two reasons:.

First, it should not be seen so much as a political intervention in its own right than as a reflection upon the conditions of protest within a violently anti-gay environment. But Grubic decided to restage the events precisely by means of that which had remained symptomatically absent. However, by being re-introduced into the picture, dance takes on a completely different meaning.


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  5. As I have said, the supplement of protest can take on many different forms, and perhaps there is no political protest without such an affective and bodily supplement. Pages Published online: 19 Apr Article Metrics Views. Article metrics information Disclaimer for citing articles. Login options Log in.

    Username Password Forgot password? Shibboleth OpenAthens. Restore content access Restore content access for purchases made as guest. Article Purchase - Online Checkout. Issue Purchase - Online Checkout. In this work, Habermas voiced criticism of the process of modernization, which he saw as inflexible direction forced through by economic and administrative rationalization. Habermas has expressed optimism about the possibility of the revival of the public sphere.

    Several noted academics have provided various criticisms of Habermas's notions regarding the public sphere. John B. Thompson , a Professor of Sociology at the University of Cambridge and a fellow of Jesus College, Cambridge , [28] has claimed that Habermas's notion of the public sphere is antiquated due to the proliferation of mass-media communications.

    Michael Schudson from the University of California, San Diego argues more generally that a public sphere as a place of purely rational independent debate never existed. Nancy Fraser , the Henry A.

    Habermas and the public sphere in SearchWorks catalog

    Habermas offered some early criticisms in an essay, "Modernity versus Postmodernity" , which has achieved wide recognition. In that essay, Habermas raises the issue of whether, in light of the failures of the twentieth century, we "should try to hold on to the intentions of the Enlightenment , feeble as they may be, or should we declare the entire project of modernity a lost cause? Habermas has several main criticisms of postmodernism :. Habermas first expressed his views on the above-mentioned historians in the Die Zeit on 11 July in a feuilleton a type of culture and arts opinion essay in German newspapers entitled "A Kind of Settlement of Damages".

    Habermas wrote: "The unconditional opening of the Federal Republic to the political culture of the West is the greatest intellectual achievement of our postwar period; my generation should be especially proud of this. This event cannot and should not be stabilized by a kind of NATO philosophy colored with German nationalism. The only patriotism that will not estrange us from the West is a constitutional patriotism.

    Habermas and Jacques Derrida engaged in a series of disputes beginning in the s and culminating in a mutual understanding and friendship in the late s that lasted until Derrida's death in The next year Habermas published "Beyond a Temporalized Philosophy of Origins: Derrida" in The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity in which he described Derrida's method as being unable to provide a foundation for social critique.

    At the end of the s, Habermas approached Derrida at a party held at an American university where both were lecturing. They then met at Paris over dinner, and participated afterwards in many joint projects. In they held a joint seminar on problems of philosophy, right, ethics, and politics at the University of Frankfurt. Following the lecture by Habermas, both thinkers engaged in a very heated debate on Heidegger and the possibility of Ethics.

    Jürgen Habermas

    In early , both Habermas and Derrida were very active in opposing the coming Iraq War ; in a manifesto that later became the book Old Europe, New Europe, Core Europe , the two called for a tighter unification of the states of the European Union in order to create a power capable of opposing American foreign policy. Derrida wrote a foreword expressing his unqualified subscription to Habermas's declaration of February "February 15, or, What Binds Europeans Together: Plea for a Common Foreign Policy, Beginning in Core Europe" in the book, which was a reaction to the Bush administration 's demands upon European nations for support in the coming Iraq War.


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    Habermas' attitudes toward religion have changed throughout the years.