In Defense of Boring Politics

By Ellis

Why is that we are more aroused by an image of a revolutionary with a gun, than a photo of a revolutionary sending an email out scheduling a group meeting to discuss duties of a new political organization? Why is it that a photo of a cop being hit with a molotov is more revolutionary than a photo of someone doing research? Whatever the reason, it seems clear that revolution has become associated with romance. For us the revolution has become something that we encounter not something that we create. If political events in the US have taught us anything, surely they have taught us that like the fairy tales about love revolution is full of frustration, let downs, and mundane activities. The true hopeless romantics will say “but a true revolution(love) is romantic”. Those who are invested in the narrative, those who have built up their philosophy around this idea of a romantic revolution, have the power via publishing power to disabuse those who have fallen for the propaganda, but to do so would undermine their own worlds. I am thankful for those who have propagated this fairy tale narrative – there is more than a grain of salt of value in their work. However grateful I am for their work, I am equally concerned for those of us genuinely interested in emancipatory politics.

For those of us who are genuinely interested in emancipatory politics the romantic image and fairy tale narrative is paralyzing. Drawing from Guy Debord, the narrative of a romantic revolutionary moment is a spectacle. As a spectacle we consume the books, documentary propaganda, and images floating around the internet. As a result we read, and talk, and learn about the romantic revolution but day after day sit on our asses reading, and watching the same narratives and images. Just like the fairy tales about love and capitalist success, the romantic revolution negates an alternative narrative. While the capitalist narrative opposes cooperation, the romantic revolution opposes boring politics of organizing and spreading new forms of being that do not involve a romantic revolution. The best thing for those who are spectators of politics is to abandon simply being a spectator. However those who are spectators of romantic politics are too afraid to take part in romantic politics, therefore they should not dither any longer, and begin work on their boring politics. Print zines, organize workers, build websites, open a worker cooperative, spread anti-capitalist and anti-statist propaganda, experiment with new ontologies, experiment with everything, form organizations, write about your experiences. It is best to do something boring, than to dream about something romantic.

Ellis is writer for the website The Academic Activist.  This essay originally appeared there.

One thought on “In Defense of Boring Politics”

  1. Within our circles, the theatrics play an important role in our Blocs. The dress to hide our identities and to intimidate. Weapons may be necessary, depending on the situation… (A)

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