Some protest movements around the globe have been deploying a rhetoric of love to make themselves feel less vulnerable to the cynical languages of neoliberal economics and managerial control. Often they involve youthful energies, from the Occupy Movements of 2011, to ‘Feel the Bern’, to the Nuit Debout movement in France. My own research has focused on an anti-gas mining protest in Broome, Western Australia. In the wake of violent confrontations with police, the demonstrators suddenly changed tactics and used the occasion of Mother’s Day 2011 to offer the police flowers, soliciting their protection by including them within a ‘We love Broome’ sphere of influence. Wendy Brown’s recent analysis of how the ‘demos’ is being undone goes some of the ways towards rebooting the vocabulary of social analysis. The ‘society’ that seeks ‘our’ participation in ever narrower ways sees burgeoning underneath it a revolution that refuses the language in which that participation is permitted. Love is one of the words that creates the ‘public feelings’ (Lauren Berlant, Kathleen Stewart) uniting this youthful growing society, with its protective bubble that deflects and disarms the order words of a deflating global modernity.
- Protest movements
- Wendy brown