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On Dingpolitik Etc.

(Some links after reading Bruno Latour's article 'From Realpolitik to Dingpolitik: Making Things Public'....all his quotes are in orange)

"What would an object-oriented democracy look like?"

"In the object-oriented conception, "parliament" is a technical term for "making things public" among many other forms of producing voices and connections among people. By this comparative visit, we seek to learn how parliaments —with a small p— could be enlarged or connected or modified or redrawn."

"You might need more than imitation to build the new political assemblies. Covering the Reichstag with a transparent dome —in effect fully opaque— as Foster did, doesn't seem nearly enough to absorb the new masses that are entering political arenas. If it's true that a parliament is a complex machinery of speech, of hearing, of voting, of dealing, what should be the shapes adjusted to a Dingpolitik? What would a political space be that would not be "neo"? What would a truly contemporary style of assembly look like?

In effect, this is what LIFT (London International Festival of Theatre) are attempting to explore. They held a competition recently that called for the design of a ‘Lift Parliament’, a space that will be at the center of their biennial Festival in June 2008. The portable/flexible structure, which will host a programme of events and meetings, is described as "a new concept in performance space where artists from around the world and the people of London can gather together to share stories, exchange knowledge and imagine and rehearse new futures......the Lift Parliament responds to a shared hunger for alternatives. Different ways of negotiating a relationship with the world. Different conversations, customs and performances. Only by rehearsing such new practices together can we imagine them into being."

AOC proposal

The process of creating it aims to involve ‘users and shareholders’ as ‘collaborators’ through a ‘unique curatorial process” with the winning architect. Their website says optimistically: "In such a Parliament, we could learn a new political literacy together: a shared understanding of how we connect not only in mind but also in space. The Parliament becomes a true public space, in that it emerges from creative practice by users, taken beyond its physical boundary through broader conversations, stories and memories. A civic moment, not a civic monument."

Jeremy Till, a UK architect and educator in London wrote this (skeptical) article to accompany the competition, entitled The Architect and the Other, with a subheading 'Can Architecture be Democratic?' As a sidenote he also edited a book recently called Architecture and Participation (2005), with a series of essays by contemporary practitioners, and historical and political perspectives on participation in the architectural profession.

The winners of the Lift Parliament competition – AOC (Agents of Change) – also make games! Here is "a game of urban cultivation" called Polyopoly - "Players invest Time, Skills and Knowledge in Sites, cultivating Assets, Amenities and Landscapes for the generation of individual and collective wealth. It proposes an alternative to the Monopoly mindset."

Polyopoly

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"In other words, matters in dispute — taken as so many issues — bound all of us in ways that map out a public space profoundly different from what is usually recognized under the label of "the political." Procedures to authorize and legitimize are important, but it's only half of what is needed to assemble. The other half lies in the issues themselves, in the matters that matter, in the res that creates a public around it. They need to be represented, authorized, legitimated and brought to bear inside the relevant assembly."

‘Nanocafes’ were recently profiled on Worldchanging.com, meetings where ‘citizens can talk democratically with the experts about the integration of nanotechnology into our society’ over a fair-trade coffee.

"Most people don't always know how much science affects their lives, and scientists and policymakers rarely ask them what they think about it. The Nano Cafés will give people access to the normally somewhat mysterious realm of science research and bring them into a lively conversation about the impact of recent research."

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"To the possible dismay of political scientists, the very idea of a political assembly does not gather much interest. This is where things become really complicated and thus interesting: How to devise an assembly of ways of dissembling instead of sending a convocation to gather under the common dome of "One Politics Size Fits All?"

This question has not yet crossed the minds of politicos in Arizona where a candidate for Governor has launched a proposal "to award $1 million in every general election to one lucky resident, chosen by lottery, simply for voting — no matter for whom — has qualified for the November ballot" ('Arizona Ballot could become Lottery Ticket', New York Times)

"If some see the erosion of democracy in putting voting on the same plane as a scratch-and-win game — and some do — Mr. Osterloh sees the gimmick as the linchpin to improve voter turnout and get more people interested in politics.....“Basically our government is elected by a small minority of citizens,” said Mr. Osterloh, 53, a semiretired ophthalmologist."

"“People should not go vote because they might win a lottery,” Curtis Gans, director of the Center for the Study of the American Electorate, said. “We need to rekindle the religion of civic duty, and that is a hard job, but we should not make voting crassly commercial.”

"“It’s clearly illegal,” said Jack Chin, a professor at the University of Arizona law school who has studied voting rights issues."

"“We’ve certainly tried everything else, and people don’t seem to turn out,” said Roberto Reveles, president of the We Are America. "

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"Politics might be better taken as a branch of disability studies."
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