"There is tenderness only in the coarsest demand: that no-one shall go hungry any more" – Theodor Adorno, Minima Moralia (1974: 156)
1. Geographies of the Kettle: Fantastic piece by Rory Rowan on recent student-led protests in the UK and the technique of ‘kettling’ used by the police. While kettling may be seen, in the first instance, as a spatial strategy predicated on containment and restraint (under the auspices of maintaining public order), it is the anticipatory logic of kettling that Rowan rightly draws attention to. Kettling, for Rowan, is spatially performative. It is not only intended to produce violence but also the spectacle of violence for mass media consumption. For Rowan, the attempt to construct an image of violent and unruly protesters is ultimately a deliberate strategy “to delegitimize protests and re-symbolize legitimate protest as unlawful ‘riot’.” Of course, none of this should take away from the fact that kettling (witness the events on Westminster Bridge on December 9th) has increasingly shifted from a strict logic of containment and image management to a temporary and violent form of retributive punishment. That such new forms of enclosure are in fact creating the necessary conditions of possibility for the exercise of violent repression is a very worrying development.
2. Epistemologies of Protest: In the article noted above, Rowan also makes a compelling point about the need to re-think the spatiality of lawful protest. He writes, “it is time to return to Deleuze and Guattari, to Debord and the Situationists, to Lefebvre, even to Tiqqun and Hakim Bey and to take them seriously (perhaps for the first time). A form of protest is needed that places dispersal over concentration, mobility over stasis and perhaps even disruption over symbolism.”
There is much to reflect on here (has Deleuze’s “Society of Control” ever seemed more apposite?). Perhaps it is not surprising, in this respect, that the teach-in at the National Gallery that took place on the same evening as the protests on Parliament Square focused on precisely this issue. Set-against the backdrop of Manet’s Execution of Maximillian, those gathered together in Room 43 of the National Gallery discussed and debated the Nomadic Hive Manifesto (“On Beeing and Nothingness”). All the details can be found here. Some predictably tedious comments below the line. The text, as I understand it, is meant to be open source and a work-in-progress and I have to say that I like how the manifesto reworks the relationship between dispersal and concentration. Not only are we dealing here with an aesthetic form of life but a new set of emancipatory assemblages that resist closure and containment.