In connection with abstract space, a space which is also instrumental (i.e. manipulated by all kinds of ‘authorities’ of which it is the locus and milieu), a question arises whose full import will become apparent only later. It concerns the silence of the 'users’ of this space. Why do they allow themselves to be manipulated in ways so damaging to their spaces and their daily life without embarking on massive revolts? Why is protest left to 'enlightened’, and hence elite, groups who are in any case largely exempt from these manipulations? Such elite circles, at the margins of political life, are highly vocal, but being mere wordmills, they have little to show for it. How is it that protest is never taken up by supposedly left-wing political parties? And why do the more honest politicians pay such a high price for displaying a bare minimum of straightforwardness? Has bureaucracy already achieved such power that no political force can successfully resist it? There must be many reasons for such a startlingly strong — and worldwide — trend. It is diffcult to see how so odd an indifference could be maintained without diverting the attention and interest of the 'users’ elsewhere, without throwing sops to them in response to their demands and proposals, or without supplying replacement fulflments for their (albeit vital) objectives. Perhaps it would be true to say that the place of social space as a whole has been usurped by a part of that space endowed with an illusory special status — namely, the part which is concerned with writing and imagery, underpinned by the written text (journalism, literature), and broadcast by the media; a part, in short, that amounts to abstraction wielding awesome reductionistic force vis-a-vis 'lived’ experience.
This show was an example of racial diversity through two of the main characters, Henri (a native French speaker of ambiguous ethnic background), and Moses, a former slave who works for Benjamin Franklin in his print shop in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, during the Revolutionary War. This show went through the course of the Revolutionary War from the Americans’ perspective, but often gave British points of view through Sarah, a native of England, or British historical figures, and treated them both as valid options. It also often spoke very frankly about the sexism and racism inherent during that time, and frequently focused on the female or people of color heroes of the war that are often neglected in history lessons.
The most remarkable aspect of the transition we are living through is not so much the passage from want to affluence as the passage from labor to leisure. Leisure contains the future, it is the new horizon. The prospect then is one of unremitting labor to bequeath to future generations a chance of founding a society of leisure that will overcome the demands and compulsions of productive labor so that time may be devoted to creative activities or simply to pleasure and happiness.
The arrogant verticality of skyscrapers, and especially of public and state buildings, introduces a phallic or more precisely a phallocratic element into the visual realm; the purpose of this display, of this need to impress, is to convey an impression of authority to each spectator…By constantly expanding the scale of things, this movement serves to compensate for the pathetically small size of each set of living-quarters.
In the developments of May ‘68, the student avant-garde rejected the dogmatic arrogance of structuralist tendencies, which, with the force of 'scientific’ arguments, refuted the spontaneity of the insurgents… Afterwards, structuralist dogma retained its gravity, a cold allure baptized 'serious’ and 'rigorous,’ the allure of neo-scientism. It wasn’t only that this scientism (which purports to be pure under the epistemological break) neglects 'real’ problems and processes; it also withdraws into a Fortress of Knowledge it never exits. During the same period, the bureaucratic state 'structured’ efficiently the whole world.
Henri Lefebvre’s ferocious attack on Althusser and Foucault, from L'ideologie structuraliste, 1971, as translated by Andrew Merrifield in his Henri Lefebvre: A Critical Introduction. Lefebvre’s writing can wander, but when he brings things to a point it’s sharp as hell.