Living Politics

For CLP, there is a fundamental split between:

·         living politics and a dead politics;

·         emancipatory politics and state politics;

·         liberatory politics and party politics.

CLP is committed to a living, emancipatory, and liberatory politics. Ranciere reserves the name politics for the emancipatory trajectory and calls the rest ‘the police’. For him, politics is the clash of the logic of egalitarianism with the logic of the police. For Badiou emancipatory politics is always a rupture with what is – it is the void of the situation.

At CLP’s ‘Fanomenal event’ in May 2011, S’bu Zikode of AbM defined politics as the movement out of the places where oppression has assigned us whereas the dead politics of state and the parties is always the instruction to go back to your place. Emancipatory politics is a politics from below, a living politics which is one with the everyday life, thinking, language and struggle of the people. It is a politics of dignity. And it is grounded in what is happening and what needs to happen to achieve real change in the world.

In the tradition of Freire, for us this politics is open-ended and we cannot pre-determine or plan or impose it because it is made by the people. Rather, as Zapatista’s say, we make the path by walking and “asking, we walk”. This emphasises also that politics is thought.

As CLP staff discussed in January 2013:

We recall here Anna Selmeczi’s suggestion that proximity is central to understanding the “living politics” articulated by Abahlali. Indeed we suggest that in important ways, living politics is characterised by the apparently paradoxical conjuncture of both proximity (to the real of the life and struggles of the people) and distance (i.e., a politics at-a-distance from the state). A living politics connects us all to the Real, and shapes us. It is the everyday practice of thinking, choosing, acting subjectively. It is grounded and it is a collective praxis of militancy. It is intimately connected with the idea that “asking, we walk” – as people said in a Living Learning session during 2012: “we are a philosophical movement”.

It is clear that what we name as ‘politics’ is not always how others use the term – it is often used exactly to describe the (non) politics of the state. In 2010 (Finding our voice in the world) CLP clarified:

There is an oft-repeated English saying that ‘politics is the art of the possible’.[1] But CLP increasingly reserves the name ‘politics’ for those properly emancipatory moments – or ruptures – where the people establish their human subjectivity in the wider society, and throw off the oppression of being objects of history and domination. Under these conditions, politics is precisely the refusal to accept that the world-as-it-is determines what could be.

The world-as-it-is is structured by an underlying architecture of institutions and ideas that seem to work together to uphold the state of things in the interests of those who benefit from it.

[1] Originally attributed to Otto von Bismarck, German aristocrat, Prussian Prime Minister(1862 -1890), and First Chancellor of Germany (1871 – 1890).

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