Moving Towards a Manifesto.

I would like to propose the following points for consideration in moving towards a manifesto. I think ideological clarification about the reasons why we collaborate are very important at this particular time when we are subjected to an ideological and social war.
  • We oppose and resist the capitalist monoculture and insist on social equality and are proactive in using art in the practice of social justice.
  • The process of thought in culture needs to move from a descriptive (marketing model) to a real social methodological approach. Real in the sense that it has nothing to do with the culture of self referencing within art and use of theoretical text to dress up empty art careering driven by the forces of capital.
  • We have to convince ourselves that there is nothing ridiculous or criminal about having a great idea. The world of global and arrogant capitalism in which we live is taking us back to the 1840s and the birth of capitalism …. Too many people now think that there is no alternative to living for oneself, for one’s own interests. Let us have the courage to cut ourselves off from such people.’ (p. 67) Alain Badiou The Communist Hypothesis.
  • The process of discovering or cognizing truths must be taken on and reinvented by us, this is a political act. It is vital to define what we mean by truth. It is not a revealed religious truth, it is something we have to discover and continue to discover, but once we do, we have a commitment to that truth as we understand it. We have to act with that knowledge because one thing’s for sure, those in control of capital with all their vested interest in tying up the population in an ideology of competitive individualism will not rest.
  • As to the monolithic ‘religious’ version of truth it can be compared to a view of education that sees knowledge as a fixed body, privileging the image of knowledge over the activity of learning. So we are committed to a vision of the future which allows and provides resources for active life long learning for all. We see art as a vital method of learning available to all.
  • How do we tell our truths/encounters and to whom? Surely if this is important how and where we communicate will change and be open to examination, not just within a narrow claustrophobic art discourse but one that takes into account the whole social landscape within which the work operates.
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7 responses to “Moving Towards a Manifesto.

  1. i like the last three statements, they allow for a divergence and discourse within a framework that encourages action. (i will be a little sad if i can no longer use theoretical texts to dress up my empty art careering though, it is something that i feel i am quite good at!)

    i think the badiou statement presents some interesting problems between the absolutist position and a more conciliatory approach. it is one of those rhetorical statements which becomes difficult to follow through if taken literally as it automatically exclusionary towards anyone who is outside of your position. you then have to fall back on a theological style argument where you have to unpick the statement, which i think is part of the game that badiou is playing. i like this type of irony but i feel that it can become misunderstood if not carefully deployed.

  2. Andrew Cooper

    Hi Jon thanks for your comment. This is a key point that needs to be looked into is just how ironic is Badiou being? When I read that passage in the context of the book, the ‘Communist Hypothesis’ he is not being at all ironic in my opinion. In fact he is stating the absolute necesacity to build an alternative ideology to capitalism and to re examine the past in a way that isn’t blinded by ‘Marxist orthodoxy’. This isn’t a question of rebuilding the left as it was. I am still studying this book.
    The statement is very strong in its tone and it may be inappropriate to use a quote in a manifesto any way but I thought it would be good to lay down something like that to start.
    As a more general point I would say that sometimes it is absolutely vital to state ones position with clarity as long as you are prepared to debate it, I think this is living philosophy. Also, tactically it is possible to work with people who have different positions for a certain purpose and it might even be that people’s positions change through working together but I think it is important to be clear in the beginning.
    What is important is the willingness to test things out and in my view this can only be done through real engagement with a Real and other which we are willing to risk real relationship with. It may turn out that there is real difference and antagonism which is unproductive or it can be that the antagonism is fruitful and worth working through at this time.
    Historically I do feel that we are moving towards a brutal capitalist autocracy, I don’t want to think this but it is born out by experience and things that I am learning from people around me.
    As to the use of text I think that the intellect and ideas which could be used as real tools for emancipation, should be shared with those who need them. Knowledge is kept in the safe of meritocratic hierarchy and it needs to be busted wide open. As Deleuze says ‘we are slaves as long as we don’t control the the problems we tackle’, but we have to be willing to become conscious of those problems and not deny the commitments and changes to our thinking that this might entail. I am very grateful to people who have suggested things for me to read, for example Benjamin’s ‘The Author as Producer’. They have allowed me to define my position sometimes intuitively felt before, express it to others and test it out in the world.

  3. ‘We have to convince ourselves that there is nothing ridiculous or criminal about having a great idea. The world of global and arrogant capitalism in which we live is taking us back to the 1840s and the birth of capitalism …. Too many people now think that there is no alternative to living for oneself, for one’s own interests.’ (p. 67) Alain Badiou The Communist Hypothesis
    Practically as far as art practice goes this means taking a stand with the oppressed and not being concerned about the opinions of those who act in a capitalistic individualistic way at the expense of everybody else. Especially it means not being concerned about offending people who have any control about what work gets seen.

  4. with reference to considering badiou’s comment ironic in a theological sense; i view it in the same rhetorical tradition as the biblical ‘if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off’ (mark 9:43). It is not a literal injunction but rather a statement of seriousness, that, as andrew added this afternoon, you have to be strength of will to operate with integrity.

    i remember a few years ago reading a quote from a protester at the g8 summit in gleneagles who said something along the lines of ‘we are all capitalists, because the system forces us to be, but today we say that we do not have to be capitalists in the future’. to take this back to brecht as the original sparking of this debate – he did not refuse to show his work in a commercial theatrical/cinematic context because he felt that the benefits out-weighed the drawbacks. this is a decision that everyone has to make as a practitioner and i am not going to condemn anyone who makes that decision differently to me, providing they make it honestly.

  5. Andrew Cooper

    Yes condemning people is not the issue. I can say that someone has acted in a certain way for ideological reasons that I don’t agree with. Personal honesty matters to the individual for sure but in the end it is what we do that counts. This is not about personalities but about trying to arrive at an ideological position. It is this that can enable us to make a thought out choices and build a different kind of culture with different values. Without this solidarity becomes quite meaningless. Lets all get together to defend freedom? The freedom to exploit situations and people?

  6. This was an enlivening discussion and one that opened good questions in the thought of moving toward a manifesto for a new radical education model. Has the discussion continued in some other forum?
    Following closely from NYC

    • we are going to revisit this over the next couple of days with the communist gallery (see their previous discussion here) as we have been having some interesting discussions about this irl, so keep an eye on the main page. sorry it took so long to notice this (in the speed of teh internets terms) i don’t look over old posts that often!

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