Blackspot

Post-Consensus Politics

Moving beyond the elusive 51%.

Culture jammers face a powerful, monied, entrenched enemy that controls the media, the judiciary, the military and the halls of government. With a grip on every level of power, from city councils to the supreme court, and exclusive control over the public airwaves and the internet, the consumerists have a unparalleled propaganda apparatus. Thus, we live in a world where the majority sincerely agrees with their own enslavement. Consensus is owned by the corporations. How, despite all this, can a small number of jammers pull off a revolution against consumerism?

The obvious answer is that we ought to struggle to regain the majority's favor. The reasoning for this approach is that we must first build up a powerful consensus before we can have the legitimacy to make radical social changes. This is a commonsensical democratic idea that motivates most political activism today. The assumption is that democratic change can occur only when one has a majority of the vote, a view the corporatist-majority promulgates because it legitimates their grip on power. In this model, the solution to every social problem begins with canvassing for donations and ends at the ballot box.

The radical left has hitherto been paralyzed by the dream of achieving a consensus that legitimates its dreams of power. Confined within the logic of corporatist parliamentary politics, activists have dissipated their energy in chasing after the mythical fifty-one percent of the vote or the polls. Consider, for example, the process by which political platforms are drafted today. Each radical proposal, from the Tobin Tax to True Cost Economics, is submitted to the question of whether fifty-one percent of the population would support it at the ballot box. If the answer is no, then the proposal, no matter how righteous, is abandoned. The name of the game is compromise and majoritarian politics.

In recent years, particularly following the failure of the global antiwar protests to change the drift of history, the flaw of the consensus-chasing model has become clear. After all, once we accept the assumption that democratic change can only occur when the majority is on our side, politics devolves into a game where truth is superseded by the power of opinion. With focus grouped messaging, political advertising and branding messiahs dictating the path to swaying mainstream doxa, we give capitalism the power to pick the winner of every contest.

On the contrary, the challenge for culture jammers today is to conceive of how a minority, without dreams of achieving fifty-one percent of public opinion, can enact significant, long-lasting, radial social change.

Post-consensus politics means freeing ourselves from the delusion that the majority will be convinced prior to the revolution. It means abandoning the resource-intensive tactics of watering down our message for mass public consumption. And it demands we contemplate instead how a small cadre of fired-up jammers with limited resources can destabilize the consumerist regime.

Micah White

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Comments on the article “Post-Consensus Politics”

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Jason Gooljar

So what do you propose that a small group can do in this context? We aren't trying to get a majority opinion so how do we get that change we seek?

Jason Gooljar

So what do you propose that a small group can do in this context? We aren't trying to get a majority opinion so how do we get that change we seek?

Micah White

I have a few ideas and I think Wikileaks presents a clue. I'll answer your question directly in a future article.

Micah White

I have a few ideas and I think Wikileaks presents a clue. I'll answer your question directly in a future article.

Thomas Arnold

Consensus itself is an issue, as it is only about a majority opinion that doesn't have to have anything to do with informed opinion. It's a majority of potentially blind or ill-informed opinions. Such aspects of democracy are problematic.

Thomas Arnold

Consensus itself is an issue, as it is only about a majority opinion that doesn't have to have anything to do with informed opinion. It's a majority of potentially blind or ill-informed opinions. Such aspects of democracy are problematic.

Resistas

Your change can occur with individual, massive paradigm shifts within the separate areas/sections of what make the current power structure. WikiLeaks has accomplished a shift in information dissemination, loosening the grip the Governments have on it through attacking the very system they use. Making it porous reduced it's effectiveness as a tool.
Once the majority get to peak inside these institutions (or in this case the government conspiracy to keep their real opinions/assessments from the people they are suppose to serve), they cease to hold their veneer of absolute righteousness and thus power.
We've also had a very explicit demonstration of how little the financial masters actually master they world they claim to, with various groups from both the left and right of the political spectrum mobilising to stop the bailouts. Witness the Tea Party movement in the USA and the Unionist/Communist/Socialist through to Anarchist groups from Greece to Ireland in Europe.
The propaganda unit has been attacked via WikiLeaks, the financial unit by their own utter greed and obvious unsustainable nature.
The public has become apathetic to politics; they are there for the taking. Start at local level (think HST Freak Power ticket in Aspen... he didn't win but they got the County Commissioner position and forced the Republicans to drop out of the Sherriff race), this doesn't even mean fielding candidates, just getting the real issues into the debate is the object.
At the moment with Irish parliament trying to pass further austerity measures (after already forcing the Irish to spend the last 2 years under their oppressive weight to no avail) the public is saying no, calling instead for an early election.
These movements have to be right up in your face stuff, but also showing the people that our way is a freer, funner, more f..cken ALIVE way.
The UK Uncut movement are doing just this at the moment with their Big Society Revenue and Customs movement targeting and closing stores that practise immoral (if not illegal) tax avoidance. Not by lettering and petitioning, but simply by turning up at stores with no more than a few dosen people and sitting in the entrance... always singing and making friendly with the constabulary if possible. Inevitably people passing by ask what happening, agree, smile, then sit down and join the singing... it's a beautiful thing.
People hate what is going on at the moment... turn this energy into rebellion... it's fun... they’ll catch on!

Resistas

Your change can occur with individual, massive paradigm shifts within the separate areas/sections of what make the current power structure. WikiLeaks has accomplished a shift in information dissemination, loosening the grip the Governments have on it through attacking the very system they use. Making it porous reduced it's effectiveness as a tool.
Once the majority get to peak inside these institutions (or in this case the government conspiracy to keep their real opinions/assessments from the people they are suppose to serve), they cease to hold their veneer of absolute righteousness and thus power.
We've also had a very explicit demonstration of how little the financial masters actually master they world they claim to, with various groups from both the left and right of the political spectrum mobilising to stop the bailouts. Witness the Tea Party movement in the USA and the Unionist/Communist/Socialist through to Anarchist groups from Greece to Ireland in Europe.
The propaganda unit has been attacked via WikiLeaks, the financial unit by their own utter greed and obvious unsustainable nature.
The public has become apathetic to politics; they are there for the taking. Start at local level (think HST Freak Power ticket in Aspen... he didn't win but they got the County Commissioner position and forced the Republicans to drop out of the Sherriff race), this doesn't even mean fielding candidates, just getting the real issues into the debate is the object.
At the moment with Irish parliament trying to pass further austerity measures (after already forcing the Irish to spend the last 2 years under their oppressive weight to no avail) the public is saying no, calling instead for an early election.
These movements have to be right up in your face stuff, but also showing the people that our way is a freer, funner, more f..cken ALIVE way.
The UK Uncut movement are doing just this at the moment with their Big Society Revenue and Customs movement targeting and closing stores that practise immoral (if not illegal) tax avoidance. Not by lettering and petitioning, but simply by turning up at stores with no more than a few dosen people and sitting in the entrance... always singing and making friendly with the constabulary if possible. Inevitably people passing by ask what happening, agree, smile, then sit down and join the singing... it's a beautiful thing.
People hate what is going on at the moment... turn this energy into rebellion... it's fun... they’ll catch on!

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