[-empyre-] Resilient Latin America: Reconnecting Urban Policyand the Collective's Imagination

Brian Holmes bhcontinentaldrift at gmail.com
Thu Mar 29 05:29:54 EST 2012

On 03/28/2012 12:48 PM, Ala Plastica wrote:
> Brian, Muy bueno e inspirador el texto CARTOGRAPHY WITH YOUR FEET.
> Gracias por compartirlo.
> Alejandro

Encantado que te gustó. El texto iba tan perfectamente con lo que tu 
dijiste, me pareció como un eco desde lejos.

Sin embargo, hay todavía una pregunta sobre la relación entre la 
resistencia y las fuerzas progresistas de la política constituida, ¿no? 
Hace muuuucho tiempo, en Paris en mitad de las noventa, la traducción 
francesa del libro de Miguel Benasayag y Diego Sztulwark, "Política y 
situación, de la potencia al contrapoder", me hizo un efecto bastante 
impactante. Ellos decían que había que distinguir entre situaciones de 
resistencia y situaciones de gestión. Esto no quería decir que uno no 
podía, y incluso, no debía pasar de una a otra, de la resistencia a un 
tentativo de gestión más justa (o sea, un tentativo de "urban policy"). 
Solamente, lo importante era no confundir las dos, y jamás pensar que 
uno puede actuar de la misma manera en una situación de gestión como en 
una situación de resistencia. Trabajar con esta diferencia parece ser la 
base de toda política pragmática. Saber mantener la diferencia, incluso 
en las palabras que uno emplea, parece ser la única manera de evitar la 
retórica engañadora. Y más aún, de mantener abierta la grieta entre 
demanda popular y respuesta administrativa, de donde sale la fuerza viva 
de las pocas y raras relaciones democráticas que haya en el mundo social 


OK, translation time -->

I just couldn't help sending that text because it went so perfectly with 

That said, isn't there still a question about the relation between 
resistance and the progressive forces of official politics? A long long 
time ago, in Paris in the mid-90s, the French translation of the book by 
Miguel Banasayag and Diego Sztulwark, "Política y situación, de la 
potencia al contrapoder", had a great effect on me. They said you have 
to distinguish between a situation of resistance and a situation of 
management. This did not meant that one couldn't, or shouldn't, go from 
one to the other, from resistance to an attempt at a more just form of 
management (or what we're calling "policy" in this discussion). But the 
important thing was not to confuse the two, and never to act, when you 
are in a situation of management, in the same way as you would act in a 
situation of resistance. Working with this difference seems to be the 
basis of any pragmatic politics. Knowing how to maintain the 
distinction, even in the words that one uses, seems to be the only way 
to avoid a manipulative rhetoric. And even more, it's the only way to 
keep open the crack between grassroots demand and adminstrative 
response, from which emerge those few and very rare democratic social 
relations that we can occasionally experience in the contemporary world.

all the best, Brian

> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Brian Holmes"
> <bhcontinentaldrift at gmail.com>
> To: <empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au>
> Sent: Wednesday, March 28, 2012 11:58 AM
> Subject: Re: [-empyre-] Resilient Latin America: Reconnecting Urban
> Policyand the Collective's Imagination
> On 03/28/2012 04:52 AM, Ala Plastica wrote:
>> In contrast to this idea of natural understanding, an intervention in
>> the environment is often conceived as an occupation based on the idea of
>> transport corridors. In this way, zones are divided according to
>> economic interests and the imagery is guided by commercial means of
>> communication and financial institutions with only a few spaces of
>> brilliant modernity. This can be defined as an ego-system, a system that
>> generates social and environmental toxicity affecting life quality and
>> health conditions seriously.
> This is exactly what we wanted to poke fun at when we started talking
> about the Midwest Radical Cultural Corridor! It's what my friend Angela
> Melitopoulos calls "corridorical thinking." But this notion of
> "ego-systems" is more clear, it goes straight to the heart of the issue.
> The world is now full of huge, top-down infrastructures, carried out
> through state planning processes, just to support the illusion of "ego"
> cut off / freed from the others. Mind you, I am not sure that all the
> projects Teddy talks about really fall into this category, I think it's
> important to look closely when people (even politicians) really try
> something different...
>> Unfortunately, what is not included in this matrix is the point of view
>> of desirable social human relationships that links the economic and
>> social system with the place vocation. To a great extent, the
>> development of "ego-systems" occurs in societies due to the break of the
>> flow of social doing -the ability to do things. When this social flow of
>> doing fractures that power of doing turns into the opposite, the
>> power-over who conceives but does not execute, while the others execute
>> but do not conceive.
> This whole text is beautiful, and what's more, spot on. Thanks for this,
> Alejandro. Did you write it? In what context does it fit?
> In echo I am going to paste in a text which our group (the Compass) used
> as a kind of invitation or "convocatorio" for people going to the US
> Social Forum in Detroit in 2010. We wanted to meet people and hear their
> stories, to enlarge the process of co-creation. The echo is very strong,
> you'll see:
> Driven by the pressures of corporate competition, Midwestern capital
> elites envision a network of high-speed trains linking the scattered
> cities of flyover land into a dense urban grid. Oblivious to
> territories, histories, and peoples, you whisk your way from center to
> center like a roulette ball spinning through the global casino. What
> gets lost in these dreams of power are the connections between the city
> and the country, the earth and the sky, the past and the future.
> What kinds of worlds are installed on the ground by the neoliberal
> planning processes developed in the technocratic universities? Why do
> these projects fail even before they begin? How to start building a
> cultural and intellectual commons that can seep into the fabric of
> everyday existence? The Midwest Radical Cultural Corridor is a call for
> longer, slower, deeper connections between the territories where we
> live. It’s a cartography of shared experience, built up by those who
> nourish lasting ties between critical groups, political projects,
> radical communities and experiments in alternative living. Why not help
> build the commons by overflowing your usual daily routines? Why not make
> the journey to the US Social Forum into a chance to discover the worlds
> we can create right here in our own region?
> This workshop draws from the inspiration of Grace Lee Boggs and the
> travels of the Compass Group on our Continental Drift through the
> Midwest Radical Cultural Corridor. The idea is to propose an act of
> collective discovery and creation, to be carried out by anyone who’s
> heading to the Social Forum. Multiple caravans each chart their
> particular pathways and organize their own activist campaigns, artistic
> exchanges, skill-sharing sessions, solidarity dinners or whatever else
> they desire on the roads to Detroit, then converge at the Allied Media
> conference and the US Social Forum to share stories, images, and
> artifacts from their detours through the Midwestern labyrinth.
> Meanwhile, those with different priorities can invent their own forms of
> travel and exchange, explore diverging temporalities, set up “stationary
> drifts” in the neighborhoods they inhabit and continue the projects
> they’re pursuing, while the moving worlds pass through them.
> By taking the time for a conscious experience of the territories we are
> continually traversing, we can build up what Stephen Shukaitis calls an
> “imaginal machine”: a many-headed hydra telling tales of solidarity and
> struggle, daily life, and outlandish dreams in the places that power
> forgets, leaving their inhabitants free to remember living histories and
> work toward better tomorrows. The Compass Group will present images,
> narratives, and documents from our Continental Drift in 2008, then open
> up the concept to input and debate. With the help of anyone who’s
> interested, we hope to lay the basis for a collaborative process of
> self-organization and convergence at the Social Forum in Detroit and to
> sow the seeds of future meetings and projects.
> ***
> For anyone who wants an idea of what actually did happen in Detroit, here:
> http://occupyeverything.org/2010/us-social-forum-detroit-2010
> best, Brian
> _______________________________________________
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> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
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