Tuesday, 1 February 2011

A One Minute Manifesto On The Politics Of Proximity

Among the uncountable joys of the Open Space event Devoted and Disgruntled 6 were the One Minute Manifestos curated by Lucy Ellinson. I'll link to the rest of them when I can, but here is mine. It's a condensation of something far more complex and nuanced, and inevitably oversimplifies. Please take it for what it is, a one minute manifesto:

Theatre is a democratic art form; democracy is a theatrical form of government. They developed in the same place and pretty much the same time, they’re products of the same world view. If the rise of the mass media has been bad for theatre, it’s been bad for democracy, too. Increasingly, the social digital media are proving to be good for democracy; they’re proving it on the streets of Cairo even as I speak. It’s tempting to believe that they could be equally good for theatre.

But it’s not Twitter and Facebook that have Mubarak trembling in his presidential palace, though they’ve helped to spread and coordinate what has; it’s the Egyptian people, in their thousands, united by the same impulse.

Digital networks are fragile, and they don’t belong to us. The more we use them the more complicit we are with the corporations that control them, and the more vulnerable we are to these corporations. They can help us connect, but they can also cut us off.

Long before oppressive regimes started restricting the social media, they were reading the Riot Act. People gathering together for a common purpose are the most powerful force in history. When so many of our interactions are mediated and mined for profit, what could be more radical than connections that cannot be commodified? What could be more radical than meeting together, in the same place, and paying attention to each other?

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