A few words about love and politics from Jürgen Habermas, Nancy Fraser, George Orwell, Saul Alinsky, Richard Sennett, Alain Badiou, Simone de Beauvoir, Howard Zinn and Harvey Milk.
The liberal model of the public sphere, in which private individuals and interests regulate public authority and in which property owners speak for humanity, has been superseded by mass consumption and publicity. In this transformed public sphere, even arguments are translated into symbols to which again one cannot respond by arguing but only by identifying with them.
We might break the spurious link between our critique of the family wage and flexible capitalism by militating for a form of life that de-centres waged work and valorises unwaged activities, including – but not only – carework.
A man may take to drink because he feels himself to be a failure, and then fail all the more completely because he drinks. It is rather the same thing that is happening to the English language. It becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts. The point is that the process is reversible.
Community organizer Saul Alinsky once threatened a “piss in” at Chicago O’Hare Airport Alinsky planned to arrange for large numbers of well-dressed African Americans to occupy the urinals and toilets at O’Hare for as long as it took to bring the city to the bargaining table.
According to Alinsky, the threat alone was sufficient to produce results. In Rules for Radicals (1971) he notes that this tactic fell under two of his rules: Rule #3: Wherever possible, go outside the experience of the enemy; and Rule #4: Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.
We might sever the bogus bond between our critique of bureaucracy and free-market fundamentalism by reclaiming the mantle of participatory democracy as a means of strengthening the public powers needed to constrain capital for the sake of justice.
Rule number one: Power is not only what you have, but what the enemy thinks you have.
Rule number two: Never go outside the expertise of your people.
Rule number three: Whenever possible, go outside the expertise of the enemy.
Rule number four: Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules.
Rule number five: Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.
Rule number six: A good tactic is one your people enjoy.
Rule number seven: A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag.
Rule number eight: Keep the pressure on. Never let up.
Rule number nine: The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself.
Rule Number ten: The major premise for tactics is the development of operations that will maintain a constant pressure upon the opposition.
Rule Number eleven: If you push a negative hard enough, it will push through and become a positive.
Rule number twelve: The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative.
Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.
Curiosity can hearten us to look beyond ourselves. Looking outwards makes for a better social bond than imagining others are reflected in ourselves.
Today, the crossed effect of desire for reassuring solidarity and economic insecurity is to render social life brutally simple: us-against-them coupled with you-are-on-your-own. But I’d insist we dwell in the condition of ‘not yet.’
As social animals we are capable of cooperating more deeply than the existing social order envisions.
What kind of world does one see when one experiences it from the point of view of two and not one? What is the world like when it is experienced, developed and lived from the point of view of difference and not identity? Love is a construction, a life that is being made, no longer from the perspective of One but from the perspective of two. And that is what I have called a “Two scene”.
Love is above all a construction that lasts. To give up at the first hurdle, the first serious disagreement, the first quarrel, is only to distort love. Real love is one that triumphs lastingly, sometimes painfully, over the hurdles erected by time, space and the world. [Alain Badiou]
The future is the meaning and the substance of all action; the limits can not be marked out a priori; the goal must be considered as an end; we have to justify it on the basis of our freedom which has projected it, by the ensemble of the movement which ends in its fulfilment.
[Simone de Beauvoir]
The tasks we have set up for ourselves and which, though exceeding the limits of our lives, are ours, must find their meaning in themselves…
[Simone de Beauvoir]
To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness.
What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. [Howard Zinn]
If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places—and there are so many—where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act.
I know you cannot live on hope alone, but without it life is not worth living.