Wednesday, March 10, 2004

'Not in My Name'

The coincidence of the politics of feeling and an apolitical populism is one of the distinctive features of contemporary protest. By focusing on an individual politician's personality, it personalises politics. But even more importantly, protest has become a strikingly personal matter. It is about the protester as an individual, and says more about how he feels about himself than what he thinks of the issue at stake. That is why it is difficult to define today's acts of protest as constituting a political movement. On the contrary: they are the product of a profound mood of political disengagement that afflicts most Western societies.


'Not in my name' is self-consciously framed as a personal proclamation. It is not a political statement designed to involve others, and does not seek to offer an alternative. It does not call on anyone to choose sides or even insist on a particular course of action. Insofar as it represents an attitude, 'Not in my name' is a statement of individual preference and represents an opt-out clause, rather than an attempt to alter the course of events. This is a shrug of the shoulder, which reflects a mood of general anti-engagement as much as it does a weariness towards war.

More good stuff in Frank Furedi's "Spiked" essay, here.