Consumption, Resistance and Everyday Life: Ruptures and Continuities
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This paper makes the case for regarding political consumption and more generally individual collective action as an instance of “everyday resistance.” In doing so it seeks to make connection with the political case against representative politics, one that stretches back to the origins of “official” politics at the start of the 19th century. Three moments in the history of the idea of everyday resistance are presented: Max Stirner’s egoistic individualism, Leo Tolstoy’s critique of violence, and Agnes Heller’s evocation of the everyday as a site of civic courage. The examples show the longevity and persistence in political thought of the idea of the individual as the locus of social power, one that puts it at odds with the normative assumptions of theories of representation. They also show the dangers of assuming that individual collective action can unproblematically be considered a form of participation in democratic processes as opposed to a resistance against incorporation into mainstream or “official” politics. Rights which are often at the core of efforts of activists become remodelled as a weapon of contingent “everyday” struggles as opposed to a universal or transcendentally posited phenomenon.