News ID: 325570
Published: 0352 GMT November 23, 2022
University of Wisconsin political scientist Kennan Ferguson:

‘No Politics’ can make a crisis emerge

‘No Politics’ can make a crisis emerge

As part of a more extensive interview on his book ‘The Big No’ (University of Minnesota Press, 2022), we asked Kennan Ferguson, professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, about his account of ‘No Politics’ and what it signifies. The whole interview will be soon published by Iran Daily.

IRAN DAILY: it seems that the No Politics is on the rise. Would you agree with that? And if the no politics is on the rise? Why are we becoming more interested in this version of doing politics?

KENNAN FERGUSON: I would say that No Politics is often associated with times of crisis, and so they often see it as an effect of crises. But No Politics is also an indicator of crisis, that is it can make a crisis emerge: Something that appears to be running smoothly is shown to not actually be working because of non-participation. And so what seemed like non-crisis moment is revealed to have had the potential for crisis within it all.

When did this all start? In the very old times maybe?

I think the idea that everyone must be unified to a common purpose is one of the hallmarks of any kind of power from anything, for example a family, to a to a tribe, to a city and to a nation. It's never true, but it's the fiction under which those of political organizations can operate.

You seem to take a positive view of non-conformism, which constitutes the No Politics, right?

No, I think I'm, I'm actually more interested in it as a descriptor than I am as celebrating it. I would say that in the United States, the election of Donald Trump as somebody who was going to break apart all the old systems was in part powered by a sense of No Politics, as was Brexit in England. Those are both sort of universally NO emergences that can be identified not because they have salutory consequences, not because they're good, but because the political potentiality of the movement isn't aimed at something. It's not saying, “Oh, this is the system that we will replace this with.” It's actually more of a reaction to the existing system.

Some scholars argue that in the 21st century version of riots and protests, people seem to know what they don't want, but they don't know what they want. Can that be a root cause of the rise of the No Politics?

Part of what is interesting to me about no politics is the resistance to saying “Yes, this is all our alternative, this is the world that we want instead.” Usually, the version that we have of it, at least in the United States, is something like a workers strike where people stop working in order to achieve a goal or an effect. What I was really interested to do in these essays, was pushing us beyond thinking just like that. No Politics is not “I want my alternative to replace this;” it is rather more a reaction to a system saying, “I am no longer willing to go along with this system.”

Then, it’s about saying “I’m not no longer eager to play along”?

Right.

 

   
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