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Archive for June 2007

A Democratic Decision and its Discontents

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A travel note to share: After many twists and turns, it was some years ago decided to tear down the Palace of the Republic, an old GDR prestige construction in the center of Berlin. The parliament, city council and whoever else bears the responsibility for all this feel the need to point out that the decision made in a democratic country with its democratic local government is, indeed, also a democratic decision (PBS Frontline has a short doc about the palace and the decision to tear it down here) – at least that’s the title of the posters that inform the curious by-passers of what is going on.

I took some pictures of a nice little information/propaganda wall that has been put up next to the site of the now largely dismantled building (it is even more long-winded online). What is interesting from the perspective of this blog is not so much the glib and highly professional communication on the posters that surround the construction yard, but more how discontents have appropriated the posters as a platform for their own views–question marks, comments, and criticism appear in handwriting next to the printed info. Also interesting is that some of the comments are in English, targeting not only locals, but also tourists like me. Maybe next time they should simply leave space for comments, since these are becoming wall papers anyway?


Written by Rasmus Kleis Nielsen

June 17, 2007 at 5:39 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Taking Part

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As usual, the G8 meeting, this time in Heiligendamm, is one giant spectacle for everyone involved. Elected politicians, bureaucrats, police, protesters, and journalists use each other for numerous ends and dead ends. Cameras, recorders, and various forms of wireless communication are ubiquitous. Everything is documented, communicated, mediated, endlessly recycled, repackaged, and reused.

This also counts for the protestors’ tactical repertoire, closely monitored not only by the police and by their fellows around the world, but also by ‘the suits’ on the other side of the many fences.

Adding irony to the hopes and tragedies of these meetings, precisely here, at the front line between those who are trying to take a part they have not been offered, and the forms of obstruction and repression they are met with, numerous new forms of political organization and action are being developed that will, if the historical record is anything to go by, later be appropriated by precisely the state-bound political process of legitimization that the protestors are challenging.

Many of the current buzzwords of participation in state and electoral politics are old news to those who try to take part in Heiligendamm these days—they where using social networking softwares, cell phone based forms of communication, and online video bases like youtube before they became part of the lingo of electoral politics. And they are ahead again—an example: search Flickr for pictures of Heiligendamm + G8, and ask yourself who got the better of whom on that digital front?

Written by Rasmus Kleis Nielsen

June 10, 2007 at 9:21 am

Posted in Uncategorized