In political philosopher Jacques Rancière’s The Politics of Aesthetics, he develops a hypothesis about the distribution of the sensible, which are those things possible to be thought of, meaningfully articulated, accomplished and acknowledged in any particular society. His idea is often taken up by the left as part of the process of enabling voice where it has been denied, of empowering communities to have their concerns taken seriously by other communities within a society, and by governments in particular.
At art history and curatorial studies professor Claire Bishop’s recent Power Plant talk, she reminded me that Rancière’s distribution of the sensible is not just in service of left-wing political agendas, and that a redistribution of the sensible can work for right-wing conceptions of an ideal society as much as it can silence those whose opposition (to whatever prevailing idea) is inconvenient.
Now, there is an impending federal election and, statistically speaking, most of my friends/co-workers/collaborators did not vote the last time their Member of Parliament was up for debate. I’m not exactly sure of the party political leanings of all the people in my own communities, so I’m not sure if their voting would have resulted in a different outcome, but given our collective idealization of theories of emancipation, Stephen Harper’s Conservative government is a real threat.
For instance, scientists at Environment Canada are not permitted to speak freely (they must get permission to do interviews, and their answers are often screened), he has tried multiple times to pass legislation that would allow him to obtain our personal information from internet service providers without a warrant, Canadian crime rates continue to fall as he builds more and more prisons, and he has cut funding for women’s advocacy groups by more than 40% since he took office five years ago, which includes eliminating funding for legal programs put in place to assist women and minority groups in particular. Strikingly, Harper has also put a tight limit on the number of questions that can be directed to him at press conferences: five. He has refused to explain his rationale for this, but the one clear consequence is that politics as embodied by Harper will be conducted at surface level. Unfortunately, national governance is not so simple. This is not to mention that the reason this election is happening is because, for the first time in history, a Canadian government has been found in contempt of Parliament and thus our government collapsed.
PLEASE VOTE: 02 May 2011
See some shit that Stephen Harper did here.
If you want to strategically vote, here’s information about how to do it so that Stephen Harper is no longer an international embarrassment in Canada’s name.