From Enragés to Indignados: Occupations & Riots of 1968 and 2011

Lang, Martin (2018) From Enragés to Indignados: Occupations & Riots of 1968 and 2011. In: 1968 | 2018 Protest, Performance and the Public Sphere, 7-9 June 2018, The University of Warwick.

From Enragés to Indignados: Occupations & Riots of 1968 and 2011
1968-2018_Protest-performance-and-the-public-sphere_programme_Warwick.pdf - Whole Document

Item Type:Conference or Workshop contribution (Paper)
Item Status:Live Archive


This paper takes as its starting premise that there are similarities between the riots and occupations of 1968 and 2011. It makes four claims: That the Situationists influenced both the Occupations of 1968 and 2011; that both sets of occupations were influenced by riots that preceded them; that these riots were rebellions against consumer culture; and that Occupy's slogan “We are the 99%" is a moralistic judgement that throws blame on individuals, rather than systems.  
There is a lot of evidence that the Situationists influenced, even instigated the unrest of May 1968, but the claim that they also influenced the Indignados and Occupy movements of 2011 is less straightforward. Two key organisers of Occupy, Kalle Lasn and David Graeber are analysed as evidence that Situationist thought informed their decisions.  
The Situationist text 'The Decline and Fall of the Spectacle-Commodity Economy' (1966) is given as evidence that the Watts Rebellion was influential on their thinking. I argue that in Watts, they saw a built-up frustration with consumer capitalism that they later hoped to release in Paris. Text from the Situationist-affiliated group Black Mask is used to draw parallels with the riots of 2011.  
A series of sources are used to critique the Situationist claim that the Watts Rebellion was not a race riot, but a riot against the spectacle-commodity economy. This claim is then applied to the series of riots, known as the Long, Hot Summer, that spread across America in 1967, as well as the August Riots that started in London, before spreading to other English cities in 2011.  
Lastly, Sebastian Loewe's claim, that "We Are the 99%" is a moralistic claim that puts blame onto individuals, at the expense of the system is examined. This is linked to the Situationist claim about race, to conclude that there is something to be said about socialising our understanding of today's political and social challenges. Failure to do so, I argue, leads to tribal, fragmented, populism.  
Occupy enthusiastically welcomed each participant as greater evidence that they represented the 99%. It did not matter if each and every person has a different grievance, as Occupy's horizontalist ethos valued all individual opinion equally. I argue this is related to Brexit, The Big Society and the election of Donald Trump, as all are examples of the fragmentation of collective responsibility that privileges individual moral obligations over systemic critique. The backdrop to this western in-fighting is the global refugee crisis that reminds us that globally, we are the 1% might be a more accurate slogan.

Keywords:1968, Occupy Movement, Indignados, Les Enrages, situationist international, Riots, Occupations, Art and Activism, Art & Politics, Brexit, Populism, Marxism
Subjects:V Historical and Philosophical studies > V350 History of Art
W Creative Arts and Design > W100 Fine Art
Divisions:College of Arts
ID Code:32159
Deposited On:20 Oct 2018 20:56

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