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celebratedrecluse OP wrote

furthermore, mat's point that statue destructions are proceeding from superstructure towards material conditions, rather than occuring in the midst of changing material conditions and symbolizing those preexisting conditions, seems pretty accurate to me. that this conversation has become about moral debating over historical figures, rather than the material condtions around us now.

It is striking to me how the conversation was directed from:

  1. george floyd's death was unjust

  2. police brutality in response to demonstrations must be stopped.

  3. statues must be cancelled

what do you all think? Does the focus on statues and other monuments detract or enhance the ability of popular movements to make effective actions on this time?


celebratedrecluse OP wrote

Virgil's pushback was appropriate and I think there is definitely a chilling effect on actions as well as speech if you have racist or other oppressive symbology visible everywhere in public places


lastfutures wrote (edited )

I'm not sure how I feel about it because it's happening in the midst of cancel culture and seems to take that tone for the most part, which I don't care for. As in, I don't like the conversation being around deciding which historical figures were good or bad by our modern standards. It too easily falls into the daily spectacular narrative. That debate is uninteresting to me - all statues are shit, it's alienated history, alienated architecture, fuck the specifics. It's at its best when it's not a debate over historical figures, not a symbolic rejection of this or that bad thing. Destroy what bores you on sight!

On the other hand, people using protests as a way to change their public space to conform to their desires, even in this minimal way, is much more interesting to me than making reformist demands of public officials. If a protest is to mean much of anything, that's the goal imo. The carnival, the re-imagining of uses for public space, opening possibilities, etc. Toppling statues seems very much in line with that, as does burning things down and the autonomous zone.

The challenge these days (decades...) seems to be how to push that second bit without just falling into the first. I'm wary of anyone mumbling about superstructure or material conditions here, because they usually seem to be pushing a dichotomy that I don't agree with, a dichotomy that privileges the traditionally political, the economic or whatever. Sure, sucking people into superficial spectacular culture wars is an extremely effective form of social control right now, but so is the the closing off of possibilities and making it seem like nothing else is possible. If there's a way to win that, it seems to me that this physical incarnation - which implies that it involves the body, your local environment, daily life, etc. - has more potential. I don't see how '''material conditions''' are supposed to change without people imagining being able to change their city to suit their desires - and is the city not a material condition? How can you think freely in the shadow of a church?

This is me being an optimist about it for the moment, maybe because I'm no more optimistic about whatever alternatives these people want to suggest. If toppling statues is going to be co-opted & recuperated, then I don't see why the other tactics wouldn't as well.