Reload Disobedience

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Reload Disobedience
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Civil disobedience is a crucial political practice of our times. Since the early 90s, civil disobedience was partly transformed in digital practices by artists, activists and political technologists. The concept of civil disobedience is contested by itself, but the digital transformation adds a whole new set of questions to this exceptional phenomenon of political action. This talk will bring political theory about civil disobedience in dialog with claims and actions by the political subjects that reinvented what civil disobedience means in the digital era.
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and the and he and the and build
you the yeah I'm free to see that if the people want to
start their 3rd day of Republika
with thinking about civil disobedience at that time I probably wouldn't be here if I would have to say if you it and have you are and so as the set I wrote a phd about this for the last 4 years and what I did in my PhD was bring together 2 perspectives that hadn't been so much in dialog I believe and that is on 1 side the practices of digital disobedience that we see since the eighties and on the other side uh the discourse of the political theory that has concepts of civil disobedience and so try to create a dialog between those both
sides the practice is going on and the query and uh tried to engage them in equal arguments are also see the practices as a kind of thinking about what civil disobedience might be in the digital age and I called my PhD reloads disobedience because
that talks to to claims that are making the 1st claim is is that we have a mainstream understanding of civil disobedience and I think there's a lot of things wrong with that I think it's very much too restricted and we should really really low that and understanding of civil disobedience with better conceptions that are also around for a long time there but as they're not that common and and on the other side I think and that digital actions actually reloaded and re invented civil disobedience in way and all talk about in which ways they reinvented disobedience and so I want to point out 1st that this is not uncommon for civil disobedience because civil disobedience is never defined by 1 tactic is always something that is and transforming and regarding to each system and each context that it is enacted in so what are we talking about when we're talking about civil disobedience civil civilians is
an exceptional type of politic so it's not a demonstration and an olive Laura societies and there is already a lot of conflict built into our daily discussions we have agreement disagreement on things and uh civil disobedience is exceptional even to that and on the other side of civil
disobedience is a constructive type of politics and what I mean by that is that it does not only defend those rights that already exists but civil disobedience claims new right so
to give you some a good
metaphor that civil disobedience is I would like to to use this of James Tully philosopher politics is the type of game in which the framework the rules of the game you can come up for the liberation and amendment in the course of the game and when we take this metaphor for a moment what is civil disobedience the civil disobedience it's not the cheetah in this game so it's not the person who simply evade the rules and bends the rules for his own personal interest to have an advantage and do this may be secretly so that nobody notices that you're actually bending the rules or somehow cheating and it is also not a killjoy it is not a person who says you know I don't care about your rules to your rules I'm doing my thing over here no civil disobedience as this is the person who takes a look at the games and takes a look at the rules and if you imagine a soccer fields the civilly disobedient person would be the person standing on the line of the field
saying you know while this game is going on let's please change the roles and led to renegotiate by rich which rules playing because these worlds are kind unfair and they're somehow in just for certain groups for instance so what is civilly disobedient person does is a very delicate act because on 1 side this person is certainly stepping out of the game and breaking the rules in a way and on the other side this person is highly involved in the game because he's asking everybody in the game to pay attention for a moment and to rethink the rules by which were playing OK so they're in history it turns out that we are pretty crappy to find out what civil disobedience is while it's going on we seem to have a better understanding of what civil disobedience
is in retrospect so we all now agree that Martin Luther King is 1 of the heroes of civil disobedience but when he was part of the civil rights movement in the US that wasn't entirely clear the opposite was the case he was seen as 1 of the most dangerous enemies he was highly surveilled and highly attacked by all kinds of groups and by the government so we only seem to come to know who the civilly disobedient people all in retrospect and I really like this Croats saying all empires like the dissidents for and I would say diff of the Office of all empires and like their decisions in retrospect but
how do we figure out in a time where's the difference between civil disobedience and playing criminals criminal action and I would argue
that the difference there can be found in principles and in political qualities of that action so let's talk a little bit about and the definitions of civil
disobedience out there and there is a liberal so called little liberal understanding that goes back to John Rawls and a Theory of Justice and that is still the mainstream understanding of civil disobedience and I would like to challenge that because it's really to restricted to understand what practices of civil disobedience really do the part that everybody agrees on in philosophy is that civil disobedience is an intentional act and it's in conflict with the law so that doesn't necessarily mean that a court has to decide and if this a civil disobedience it never would because civil disobedience is not uh and um the jurisdictional term is a political term so in accord this will not be decided necessarily but at least for civil disobedience there's always this risk of being charged with a crime it is very important that civil disobedience is always a principled act what that means is that it's not only a conscientious act and that was like part of the definition of 4 Rawls but the thing is that with our consciences M they're
not really political they are regarded towards ourselves they care about ourselves and ourselves own well-being and they're very subjective to our personal moral beliefs of civil disobedience if it is a truly political act is directed towards a commonly shared world the so it's an intersubjective act doesn't only care about my personal interest but
about how by what would rules we want to play with each other and it is very much a communicative act and sometimes the communication part happens within the acting itself sometimes it's communicated it additionally to that action and I'm going to be examples for that later but that does not necessarily mean that this act is necessarily public in every step of the way for some
occasions it might make a lot of sense that parts of civil disobedience are not public think about whistle-blowing for instance that would make no sense if its entirely public and that
what I wanna point out here is that it can't happen completely in secrecy civil disobedience was directed toward other people more than anything else so these people need to be the 1 suggests if you want to change the rules the and are in town our and philosopher air
which was very influential on what I'm talking about and she always said that there is some kind of revolutionary spirit to civil disobedience and what she meant by that is not that civil disobedience is overthrowing a whole system in a revolution but rather that civil disobedience goes back to a certain speedy fictional but a very important moments of society and that is the moment of mutual promises and this promises can be understood as a kind of consent but as a society were not consenting to all the rules that we have in our society and because we're all kind of thrown into 1 place and we're part of that even if we want to or not at but the consent that we're giving
is that we are part of this that we belong to this for some reason and everything else we can negotiate it so on that she called this the right to have rights and I think it's very important ideas she said that as a human being we necessarily have the freedom In evitably have the freedom to have right so nobody can strippers away from claiming or personal rights and this is um
this is really the essential part of what she brings civil disobedience is the the the
so there is a big debate about when civil
disobedience is justified and there's 2 important parts that are usually brought up the 1 in civil disobedience is supposed to be completely non-violent the other 1 is civil disobedience people are supposed to accept any kind pot punishment that is brought onto them and I would contest those points the violence part because violence is really concept that we haven't figured out yet entirely not in legal terms and not on any other terms and if you think of psychological violence and structural violence but where do we draw the line so um I think that's it I'm not saying that civil disobedience should be a violent action please don't understand me that way but I would say it's not a good criteria I would rather say that civil disobedience actions means needs to use means directed toward the future corporation among citizens and simply by that a lot of violent action is excluded then the and also
supposed to be is always limited limited freedom by the freedom of others nothing also by that we come to a
better understanding what means might be appropriate but it is always I would say depending on the context where civil disobedience is happening very much and that the punishment part
and I would say that not necessarily civil disobedience people have to accept the punishment because that is brought up to them it might be a part of their strategy to shame estate but it is kind of ridiculous that if especially if we look at the Digital actions going on what kind of like find punishments are brought onto people and and it would be kind of of asking them to completely self-sacrifice for something and that they believe is helping a commonly shared world but
so we talk about what civil
disobedience is in the digital world I want to make sure that I'm not saying that everything is near about civil disobedience when it comes to to digital action the opposite I think all of these criteria that we not talked about still hold true even it even in uh using digital technology I would say acting political on the Internet is no less political than acting political on the street but the EIS things that are really really invented and they on new and I took a look at those and will try to explain a little bit about those in the next
moment so there is new actors that we fix c on acting politically and it's certainly groups that were like thought to be completely on political and that is a very interesting part also there's new directions of civil disobedience so more and more civil disobedience is directed against companies against
private actors and not only against States it's not only directed against loss but it is more and more connected um 2 issues that people care about across borders there is a new as static of civil disobedience and certainly anonymity as 1 part of that new static and that has to do with the idea that not necessarily as a person is the main appearing for a political action but it is rather a statements that enters the room of the political arena and also there is a new framing for civil
disobedience and what I mean by that is that usually we think of civil disobedience as an action between a citizen and the state and now this a dimension does really work their way anymore because a lot of issues really affect a lot of people on in the world and especially with digital technologies a lot of people are affected has nothing to do with what states they they live in so in
my work I found it really helpful to the think of 3 different types of civil disobedience and on the internet and um 1st uh I found a lot of symbolic types of
digital disobedience and I would say that's doing things with words States engaging in the symbolic fights in politics that has been going on since politics as they exist I would say and
and 1 good example for that it is initiative that the pan
collective started a couple years ago and um what they did is they took Twitter bot and certainly broke the terms of use of Twitter to identify sexist on Twitter and send them a fixed step self-help programs to become less sexism and show you just a little bit about
but there is still online and if you feel that is interesting you can still look it up or send it to someone with things you really think might need at the time of the
year all the time that you shouldn't
engage with anyone who doesn't identify the existential log will be made to suffer from what experts call sexes online this can manifest itself in a number of ways for example OK that's enough and is so what is interesting
about this example is that as I already said that this example is not directed against them not a law it's not even necessarily only directed against at an institution and it is more connected and directing against the structural violence in society so it's kind of a self communication with society that civil disobedience is used for here but it certainly also addresses Twitter and ask the question like wire you not doing anything about this the 2nd example is out of the
group that I called destructive invasive digital disobedience so that is addressing the it's manipulation of data
flow and infrastructure on the internet at 1 example for this is that have a here in Germany long time
ago uh um the nineteen eighty-four uh where the early people from of the CCC added the BTX extract they transferred the money from the bank from from work to an account of the CCC and so did this actually very publicly they did this from the Data Protection Office of of the Data Protection official in in Hamburg and then make a huge press release about it so they made very clear that that this was not like done in secrecy or in nor and done out of personal interest they never really got the money and that it was um really directing to think about that these systems are insecure and that we as a society should be a better and better technology and more secure to technology and and the
last example that I wanna talk about is uh what I call digital disobedient direct action and I would say that these are the 2 types of political intervention that I showed you and are more and adaptation of tactics that we already know out of traditional and practices of civil disobedience and but this is
really something genuinely digital I would argue so it's about co-constructing the world by
creating infrastructure or sharing disobedient information and 1 group that has very
prominently and gave of given us good examples about what that is were the teller comics and I with um a campaign they called we rebuilt and they started to grades a lo-fi infrastructure of the Internet with modems when such certainly and for example in Egypt there was an internet shut and so they didn't appeal to the public to change something but they rather just didn't and they call this um do okresie the politics of sheer doing I think it's a
very interesting concept and it also means that there is a potential of directness of politics with this new type of civil disobedience because it is really constructive in 2 ways of constructing new ways to communicate politically for instance to get information out where there is an internet blocked done but also um it is claiming right in this sense that I explained before that civil disobedience always is constructed OK so
what I want to finish with is um to sum
up what I was not saying the because um I only looked at these positive examples were civil disobedience happens so this might sound very the optimistic but what I don't want to say is that civil disobedience is easy I would say that most of us are very illiterate and this new essential real of politics in our world and that is a huge problem secondly I
don't want to say that civil disobedience and digital action is very likely I would say right now the opposite is the case because the ones who actually have the ability to act politically and is very direct way with civil disobedience also the ones who very privileged and this new political system and they but are usually part of the elite that benefits so they have lesser reasons to actually um take action and complain and also our communication is turned more and more into a religious monetize flow of data and I think that's the app makes it less and less likely that we really have a political policy like a political um public on the Internet and also don't want to say that there is no problems with this new types of civil disobedience but I do want to claim that there is a huge potential for new politics and digital action and it is very much worth exploring and very much worth defending and I would like to um and with a quote behind our and or not that is a liquid but it's kind kind of summary for you because of political freedom and civil disobedience are not given their
prevail against all odds and that has to do with what fun on calls the ability to create new beginnings and she said that part of the human condition is this indestructible ability of humans to create new beginnings and I think that is exactly what civil disobedience is in the
middle of the chaos that we existence thank you
thank you very much aware emergent and so we have time for questions the please come to me thank you I think so I talk and I am a Christian I come from the comedy on toward you'll Foundation and I would say we deal with right wing extremism and you will write all what is in the Internet and those things with this talk but I look through this to my experience that look what they do on the web and they actually use this concept of disobedience to
do exactly the opposite soul how
to use them in at the end you said of course this potentials but I feel the only potential is that we give we give them this
concept in order to work to undermine our democracy or 0 democratic values they would say it is freedom of speech great stuff and I can give my racism hate the office and they will use it all kinds of ways to restructure discourse and it also uses concepts all do you see that on or under the this spirit of having produced so call I find that really worrying
and I would really want to reclaim this concept because what they're doing is completely excluded from the conception of civil disobedience as I propose that here so I would say it has nothing to do with civil disobedience because it really um as I refer to this concept of the right to have rights stripping that away from from a person and that is what they're essentially doing their but makes it completely contradictory to civil disobedience so I would say we need to reclaim the term because what they're doing has nothing to do with civil disobedience and I know that this is the thing that in this symbolic fight politics claiming a term is what happens and that is
why I think we we cannot let go of this term interstate K habits uh no I
think we need to reclaim determines a no civil disobedience is something that depends on this inclusion of anybody who needs human and so that is my reaction but I think it is very worrying that we see more and more that these terms are really uh claimed and is used yeah I just want to say
that it's behind the movement of piggy that he absolutely claim this and that's
why they also got so much attention to the capital and I think that just shows
us what kind of powerful terms civil disobedience is because we do pay attention and it's kind of it moves something in enough and that's why I think we need to really reclaimed the term and then make it very clear what it is and what is not so yes the any other questions
yeah which high things for his speech and and I would like to ask if you would say that what anonymous thus is a
good example for civil disobedience and that's a delicate quest because 1st of all I
would say that 1 actor is always doing civil disobedience and really has to be only I defined by each example in each context so you have as a researcher I have to I have to say this but here sir um I think that there are some examples that I also discuss the my PhD where I would say yes they kind of managed with a lot of chaos and without even really Amy of for from the beginning to come very close to civil disobedience I would say that for instance the Operation Payback there was 1 example for that and where they managed to includes at a really um machine of publicity and with that quality they did something else than just the deed dolls so because but I would argue that the details in very few cases is a very successful technique of civil disobedience and especially if it's used over and over again a kind of loses its meaning and because civil disobedience I talked about this communicative parts and this is getting weekends if you just do the same thing over and over again I know that there is a certain attraction and towards this because it's it has this um a connection to to sit in but I think that's all I want to stress the other part I want to say no the digital realm as exactly a part of a real for new creativity so let's think about more than DOS actions the hello
and I found you talk interesting but also kind of contradictory you mention that uh and still disobedience did not exclude violence and not long after you said that you have to you have actions that were in respect of other people's rights movement and the me
violence is disrespecting other people's right so how do you actually make those things go together I'm very
happy about the death is that wasn't entirely clear because I try to actually point out that I'm not saying that civil disobedience should include violence what I was saying is that the term violence or non violence is a very delicate criteria because there is not only physical types of violence there's also psychological types of violence structural type of violence and if you just actually in under the German along a sit in is still considered a type of violence so did you have a clear like in in in in in jurisdictional terms and violence a very um contested concept so I'm just saying that I think it's not a good criteria for the definition that does not mean that I want to include a hurtful tactics into what civil disobedience is quite the opposite I would say and it it is just not a good criteria but we have to rather think about what means really encourage a better future cooperation amongst people and it's a it's a very philosophical this discussion maybe so we can talk about that later is that entirely clear up the question but it just to to make that clear I did not say that the violence should be part of civil disobedience thank you very much a
warm welcome foot is to go for varying numerical good so the
so if you need