Myself speaking at PG Conference ‘The Contemporary Other’ at University of York, 15th April 2013
‘Big Brother for People with Degrees’: Interpassivity in Contemporary Activism
Since 2011, there has been a resurgence of activism across the globe in an attempt to resist what has come to be seen as an unjust and unfair approach to the global economy. Occupy was one of the largest ‘movements’, managing to spread across 951 cities and 81 countries in a matter of months following the initial call to camp at Zucotti Park, New York (near Wall Street). This paper is based on interviews that took place with Occupy: London in May 2012 (just before they were evicted).
Mark Fisher has suggested that, interpassivity – when “the object itself takes from me, deprives me of, my own passivity” (Žižek 2006:24) – can be seen in examples of resistive culture (such as the film ‘Wall-e’ which “performs our anti-capitalism for us” (Fisher 2009:12). In this way, the current paper suggests that we could apply this to some forms of activism to explain why some people feel like they are part of such movements without ‘properly’ joining them on the ground. Analysing some of the interview data, we find evidence that some people might be allowing the other to ‘relieve them of their passivity’ towards resistance and turning it into a kind of privatised rebellion rather than any real action against the system.
Fisher, M. (2009) Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative? Ropley: Zero Books
Žižek, S. (2006) How To Read Lacan London: Granta Books