Glocal Whatever Identities Vs. Whatever Singularities - Suzana Milevska @ Glocal: Inside Social Media
Suzana Milevska 17.10.2009 Glocal: Inside New Media New York University Skopje Whatever Identities vs. Whatever Singularities
<ul><li>This paper will explore the role that new social media such as facebook and other personal and collective blogs had played in the first organised public outburst of articulated protests against collective identity in Macedonia. </li></ul>
<ul><li>Actually this paper was triggered by the event now known as “The First Architectural Insurgence” that took place on 28 March 2009 on the main city square in Skopje. </li></ul>
http://www.a1.com.mk/vesti/default.aspx?VestID=106431 The First Architectural Insurgence 28.03.2009, Skopje, Republic of Macedonia Initially the protests were imagined as calm and in advance announced protests of the students of the Faculty of Architecture who decided to raise their voice against the Government and the Constitutional Court for backing up the contested decision to build an Orthodox Church on the main Skopje square with public money and without consultation with the citizens or any decent public discussion.
<ul><li>The main arguments against building of the church and the protests’ date were mainly announced via the frequently used social media by most of the students and the main organisers and supporters of the protests. </li></ul>
<ul><li>The complex implications of this event and the role of social media in Macedonia in it will be discussed starting from Giorgio Agamben’s concept of belonging and Ernesto Laclau’s concept - particularity of belonging . </li></ul>
<ul><li>Namely both Agamben and Laclau expressed their reserves for the particularity of belonging but while Agamben went for belonging as complete and unconditional, by stating that whatever singularities stand for a kind of universal "belonging of a belonging” or "the belonging itself", in Laclau’s views although universality is “incommensurable with any particularity” it cannot be completely thought apart of particular. </li></ul>
<ul><li>I find important to examine the oscillations between the universality - collective identities and particularity that obviously have been put at stake during the Skopje student protests. </li></ul><ul><li>In my paper I want to argue that the social media had an extremely sensitive and manifold role in the course of the events because they could not be controlled by only one of the groups involved in the conflict and were available to all different sides for various aims and therefore enhanced the oscillatory nature of identity. </li></ul>
<ul><li>The report about the fulfilment of the 8 benchmarks that accompanied the EC recommendation for accession in EU, delivered to the Macedonian Government on 15 October, included many critical remarks after each benchmark. </li></ul>
<ul><li>Amongst the remarks there is </li></ul><ul><li>a harsh criticism directed to the lack of freedom of speech in the media. The accuracy in conveying of information was questioned side by side with a criticism of monopolisation and politicisation of mainstream media. </li></ul>
<ul><li>Not very surprising, if we take into account the events from 28.03.2009 that took place on the Skopje main Square, called Macedonia. </li></ul>
<ul><li>There was no mention of social media in that report. </li></ul>
28.03.2009, the main square, Skopje Republic of Macedonia
A1 News, Terror over democracy, 29.03.2009 http://www.a1.com.mk/vesti/video.asp?Video=09/tepanje-28-03.wmv&VestID=106431
Sitel news, Students manipulate protest, 28.03.2009 Sitel news, Goup of students provoked violence directed by SDSM, 28.09.2009 <ul><li>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ArDn9_WUNk </li></ul><ul><li>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qEdfZb6iGSE&feature=related </li></ul>
<ul><li>Facebook group: Plostad sloboda </li></ul><ul><li>http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=82168370468# </li></ul><ul><li>385 members </li></ul><ul><li>1,371 confirmed guest, April Saturday 11 April 2009 </li></ul><ul><li>1,416 might attend, 2,749 not confirmed, 1,708 confirmed not attending </li></ul>
Related groups: Ne sakam crkva na plostad 7,455 members http:// www.facebook.com/event.php?eid =82168370468#/group.php?gid=23929081105 Prva Arhi Brigada, 4,768 members http:// www.facebook.com/event.php?eid =82168370468#/group.php?gid=61204922527
Jean-Francois Lyotard , The Differend: Phrases in Dispute <ul><li>A differend is a case of conflict between parties that cannot be equitably resolved for lack of a rule of judgement applicable to both. In the case of a differend , the parties cannot agree on a rule or criterion by which their dispute might be decided. </li></ul>
differend vs. litigation <ul><li>A differend is opposed to a litigation - a dispute which can be equitably resolved because the parties involved can agree on a rule of judgement. </li></ul>
victim-plaintiff <ul><li>Lyotard distinguishes the victim from the plaintiff. The later is the wronged party in a litigation; the former, the wronged party in a differend. </li></ul><ul><li>In a litigation, the plaintiff's wrong can be presented. </li></ul><ul><li>In a differend, the victim’s wrong cannot be presented. A victim, for Lyotard, is not just someone who has been wronged, but someone who has also lost the power to present this wrong. </li></ul>
<ul><li>This disempowerment can occur in </li></ul><ul><li>several ways: it may quite literally be a </li></ul><ul><li>silencing; the victim may be threatened </li></ul><ul><li>into silence or in some other way </li></ul><ul><li>disallowed to speak. </li></ul><ul><li>Alternatively, the victim may be able </li></ul><ul><li>to speak, but that speech is unable to </li></ul><ul><li>present the wrong done in the </li></ul><ul><li>discourse of the rule of judgment. </li></ul>
<ul><li>The victim may not be believed, or not be understood. The discourse of the rule of judgment may be such that the victim's wrong cannot be translated into its terms; the wrong may not be presentable as a wrong. </li></ul>
<ul><li>Contemporary globalised </li></ul><ul><li>condition inevitably pushes </li></ul><ul><li>towards hierarchised system of </li></ul><ul><li>belonging in which belonging to </li></ul><ul><li>a certain community, region, group or association </li></ul><ul><li>according to appropriate </li></ul><ul><li>particular properties or </li></ul><ul><li>attributes becomes the basic </li></ul><ul><li>requirement on which the </li></ul><ul><li>negotiations of one’s own identity are founded. </li></ul>
<ul><li>However, there is nothing to negotiate </li></ul><ul><li>in belonging proposed by Gorgio </li></ul><ul><li>Agamben: </li></ul><ul><li>it is complete and </li></ul><ul><li>unconditional, </li></ul><ul><li>"being-such", </li></ul><ul><li>or more precisely </li></ul><ul><li>"the belonging itself". </li></ul>Gorgio Agamben, The Coming Community, 1990
The phrase “Whatever singularities” for Agamben stands for “ belonging without belonging“, for a kind of universal " belonging of a belonging”
Such belonging should function without any specific attribute or property that usually defines belonging to a certain set or group.
Similarly Laclau rejects the possibility of formulating the Enlightenment notion of a totalising universal identity, and with it washes down the drain any project of uniting the world under a single banner of rationality. However he rejects any view of the world as a place populated by particular identity groups with no hope of commonality, as was according Agamben the students’ group in the Tiananmen Square during Chinese May protests.
Just as a reminder, for Agamben the most relevant distinction of the Tiananmen events (14 April-4 June1989) was the relative absence of determinate contents in the students’ demands (except the demand to mourn Hu Yaobang, an official who fought for reforms against corruption that died on 15 April).
<ul><li>That is exactly what any state cannot tolerate in any way, that the singularities form a community without affirming an identity, that humans co-belong without any representable condition of belonging. (Agamben, The Coming Community, p.86) </li></ul>
For Laclau a radically alternative analysis of the relationship between universal and particular is needed, namely, a marriage between the two: they can’t live with each other, can’t live without each other, ‘ universality is incommensurable with any particularity but cannot, however, exist apart from the particular’ (Ernesto Laclau, Emancipation(s), p34).
Such paradox whose non-solution was already known in analytic philosophy (as ‘immanent universals’) is according to Laclau ‘ the very precondition of democracy’.
<ul><li>While the concept of human rights developed during the French Revolution was based on implicit assumptions about the homogeneity of the society at that time, </li></ul><ul><li>today we have no homogenous society in this sense, since this would need the universal notion without any particularities that both Laclau and Agamben question from different perspective. </li></ul>
If democracy is possible, it is because the universal has no necessary body and no necessary content; different groups, instead, compete between themselves to temporarily claim the universal and to give to their particularisms a function of universal representation…. This for Laclau is ultimately the final failure of society to constitute itself as a society.
The unity of a political group is the result of an articulation of demands. <ul><li>The unity of a political group is actually the result of an articulation of demands. </li></ul><ul><li>However, the articulation of this unity does not correspond to some pre-established positive entity. </li></ul>
<ul><li>The multitude of groups with claims against the oppressive regimes exists in different relationship to each other. </li></ul><ul><li>They are divided by social, economic, religious or political </li></ul><ul><li>antagonisms. </li></ul><ul><li>(Laclau, On Populist Reason, 2005) </li></ul>
It is the shared negativity, the collective opposition of the emancipatory subjects that unites them against the dominant regime.
The naming of the emancipatory subjects or groups is not something that precedes the emancipatory struggle. When the various political agents come together to articulate the same demands against the oppressive regime the new political unity - the “people” emerges as something that is discursively constructed in this process of emancipatory struggle.
<ul><li>Actually what I want to discuss here is the </li></ul><ul><li>urgent need to fight for legitimate possibilities </li></ul><ul><li>for negotiation of our own position in the society </li></ul><ul><li>between these two radical oppositions, </li></ul><ul><li>between: </li></ul><ul><li>- the universal “whatever singularities" </li></ul><ul><li>and </li></ul><ul><li>- the particularity of belonging </li></ul><ul><li>that ultimately result in an endless </li></ul><ul><li>process of oscillation. </li></ul>
I want to argue that such oscillations not only may reconcile or subvert the “ representable condition of belonging” based on particularities but they also relativise the unconditional “ whatever” belonging. Gianni Vattimo, The Transparent Society, 1992
<ul><li>The subject therefore seems to long for a </li></ul><ul><li>position in which a continuous process of </li></ul><ul><li>negotiating various belongings would give </li></ul><ul><li>way even to potentiality not-to-belong . </li></ul>
My question on this occasion is actually how one negotiates such "belonging without belonging", and how one circumvents the requirements to abide to the particular belonging. Moreover, I want to call for the potentiality of not-to-belong that is not available to negotiations in the conditions where nation-states “govern too much”.
Here I refer to the contingency and potentiality of not-to-belong, following the Bartelbean formula “I-prefer-not-to” and thus I am trying to call into question the supremacy of the will to belong and the potentiality not-to-belong.
<ul><li>What is being usurped here? </li></ul><ul><li>- The very expression of potential. </li></ul><ul><li>- The movement of relationality. </li></ul><ul><li>- Becoming-together. Belonging. </li></ul>
<ul><li>Agamben writes, </li></ul><ul><li>"that the passage from potentiality to act, from common form to singularity, is not an event accomplished once and for all, but an infinite series of modal oscillations". </li></ul>
"To live in this pluralistic world means to experience freedom as a continual oscillation between belonging and disorientation." Gianni Vattimo, The Transparent Society, 2002
<ul><li>fixed identities vs. </li></ul><ul><li>negotiating belonging </li></ul>
<ul><li>Negotiation is necessary when one party requires the other party's agreement to achieve its aim. </li></ul><ul><li>Negotiations differ from mere coercion, in that negotiating parties have the theoretic possibility to veto or to withdraw from negotiations. </li></ul>
<ul><li>Throughout this paper l tried to show how new social media, </li></ul><ul><li>on the one hand, enabled introducing the social media’s power and offered new arguments in favour of negotiation identities on a larger scale in the ongoing debate, </li></ul><ul><li>but on the other hand I showed how at certain extent they put some more fuel to the severe reactions of the public, and even enabled the Government to easier find the needed “arguments” for prosecuting some of the calm protestors. </li></ul>