[H&R] Simon Critchley on Obama
keith.tilford at gmail.com
Thu Nov 13 14:11:45 PST 2008
Pay no attention to the fact that he published this on the Adbusters
website, which might in any case be a strike against the essay. It is worth
"...in the events of the late evening of November 4th: as I walked to the
subway at about 10 p.m. a vast United States flag was being unfurled in
Union Square; there were spontaneous parties in the streets of my part of
Brooklyn, and many others can testify to much more exotic, collective
experiences. This was a moment when people, no longer cowed by the power of
the state and held in check by the police, suddenly become aware of their
power and the power of their activity, which is nothing less than the
activity of liberty. At such a moment, no force can stop them and a
demonstration or street party erupts into being. This is collective joy.
There is the *potential* for a political moment here, but it is a potential
whose actualization is denied by the very representative process which is
being celebrated. At the moment when people become aware of their power
through the activity of the vote, they are simultaneously rendered powerless
by the representative process. Liberty slips from the hands of those who
have suddenly become aware of its power. In the face of such human
fireworks, it is not surprising that Obama cancelled the firework display
planned to accompany his victory speech. The message is clear: 'The victory
is yours. But when you've finished celebrating, dancing and crying, return
to your homes and be quiet. Thanks to you, the business of government is
ours and we will take it from here. We'll let you know how it goes.
P.S.Please don't take popular sovereignty too literally'."
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