Abahlali baseMjondolo Presentation
Alexis + Matt
“As much as all debates are good, fighting only by talking does not take us much further. Sometimes we need to strengthen our muscles for an action debate, that is a living debate that does not only end on theories.” S’bu Zikode, 24 September 2007; http://www.abahlali.
This quotation in the 4th page of your investigation, somehow responds to my questioning that I have gathered in my comments to the case of “an Architektur,” in terms of attributing a revolutionary power to textual production. I am completely agreed with the statement. “We need to strengthen our muscles!” Seemingly, neither the textual production nor the “architectures” for humanity can solve the problems of a world like Durban in this case. They needed a “grassroots” movement as a ”third force” in order to get their stolen rights to the city before building the spaces of such a “hope” as David Harvey would put it. And as we understood they have created it through the body of “Abahlali baseMjondol”. The most crucial point here, which takes us to the beyond the non-violent NGOs’ world and their “sweet dreams” of “holding hands around the world” to a bloody-struggle, lies beneath the “agencies” organizing the “movement” and the vital contextual/local dynamics of the capitalist production of space. The agency here is the people of Durban, not the “outsiders” trying to “sympathize” their pains. Therefore, unfortunately in this case, rules of the game, “no pain no gain” are at work. I should confess that I support wholeheartedly such a movement because it is very close to what has been going on in Turkey nowadays: “violence”
Some issues emerging in my mind:
1-I really appreciate your choice of representation by leaving the stage to the voice of AbM and locating the latest incident –the death of a young protestor- at the heart of a discussion about “engagement”. Shock!! Engagement as becoming dead! At the same time, your method clearly shows how you have engaged to this movement and re-interpreted “solidarity”. It is impossible for us to get a tactile solidarity with this movement not only because we do not want to take the same risks as Nqobile Nzuza do, but also we are here in Ann Arbor very far from the movement. –this should not be an excuse, I know, but it is really an excuse for me- For instance, although it is quite painful for me to watch my friends/people – via online Ustream videos- in Turkey –everyday- against the state-violence, I realized that I cannot touch them with my muscle power from here and I should stop crying because of being desperate. I try to write, publish, and convey the news and keep/protect my “anger” and transform it into a long run struggle. –may be, I just legitimize my situation, you are right if you say so- Therefore, I give credit to open letters and the messages of solidarity declared by important voices like Zizek, Badiou, Harvey, Butler and so on. Those people have become really inspiring during our protests. Creating a public sphere of solidarity, though being virtual, all around the world is really important. I think, what we can do is to show/represent and somehow deliver to those people that we are in solidarity with them, as Foucault said “After all, we are all governed and, to that extent, in solidarity”. So, we can modify what Marx said, “All the governed of the world unite!” -I have already conveyed the news about Durban through the social channels that I am engaged in Turkey, and I am able to do it thanks to the practices we shared via this course-
2-What a great movement questioning the “politics of truth” and the “truths of politics”:
“No Land! No House! No Vote!”
3-I think “barricades” should not always be treated as a “tactic” which “determines” or “affects” a movement’s perspective/spirit as in the case of the Commune; I don’t want to draw a “means” and “ends” relationship, but “barricades” can be understood as “means” of this movement in Durban. Attributing a special identity to the “barricades” in terms of analyzing “tactics” can be misleading. Such an approach can reduce the power of a spatial resistance and/or a resistance through space into a “symbolic” reading, which may be problematique. Of course, their protests index to the Commune and the Barricades, but the barricades of AbM are here and now, so they should be understood within the contextual forces/flux of today beyond a blessing reading of the history. -for instance, these are “road” blocks, scale of which are different than street barricades, which makes them uniquie for this case-
4-I mean, the violence and the tactics are reciprocal re-production of the oppressed and the oppressor in such movements and it is really difficult to frame them. As we define within the Lexicon: “Public does not perform its fight against social injustice within the institutions of government such as “national assembly” – a closed or “striated space” of power as defined by Deleuze and Guattari – in which it is partially represented; rather, it performs via “streets” – open or “smooth space” as defined Deleuze and Guattari – in which it fully participates. Therefore, as it was experienced in 1871 Paris Commune or 1968 urban revolts, and lastly in Buenos Aires (2001), El Alto (2003), London (2011), Cairo (2011), Madrid (2011-12), Athens (2010-12), New York (2011) or Istanbul and Ankara (2013), public is the one – the only one – who has the capability of defining its own fate, its own body, its “right to the city,”and its tools of emancipation.” Then we should add the struggle in Durban streets initiated by “Abahlali baseMjondol” to this list and much more focus on the slogan “No Land! No House! No Vote!” as a tactic leading the movement to the dignity of all of us –may be applicable to other places- and read the “barricades” as “tools” of emancipation on this way.
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