May and June in the program “Solidarity 2.0, or democracy as a form of life”

Thuesday, May 8, 18:00
Biennale Warszawa, ul. Mokotowska 29a
Meeting in English
The Free Territory of Nestora Machno – an anarchist anti-state
Lecture by Dmytro Stasiuk

The Free Territory is an unofficial name of the autonomous area existing in the lands of southern Ukraine between 1918 and 1921. It was not a state, because its main protagonist, the anarchist Nestor Makhno, and his companions refused to form the state, and promoted the idea of a society free from hierarchically organized power. The civil war that began in Russia after the October Revolution, the hostility of the Bolsheviks and the Whites, as well as the continuous marches of troops, hindered the foundation of autonomous political and economic structures in the Free Territory, hence contributing to his fall. Despite this, the history of this anarchist experiment, ignored by many official historians, provides valuable knowledge about the methods of establishing alternative political formations.

Dmytro Stasiuk is a Ukrainian historian and cultural expert. He works at the Central State Archive of CinePhotoPhono in Kiev. His interests focus on the history and historiography of the Ukrainian anarchist movement and the cultural constructions of utopian projects. Recently, he has lectured many Ukrainian cities on the subject of Nestor Makhno and the Free Territory.

Thuesday, May 15, 18:00
Biennale Warszawa, ul. Mokotowska 29a
Populism – a threat or a symptom of democracy?
Lecture by Jan Sowa

The increasing popularity of conservative populism forces us to rethink this phenomenon on a systematic basis. Contrary to popular opinion, populism is not the ultimate and the greatest threat to the democratic order, nor per se it is an independent formation. Populism is first and foremost a derivative of the particular configuration of the political and media field, characteristic for capitalism in its mature, developed form: it is nothing more than dressing the social wound caused by the capital accumulation processes. It formed as a form of politics cultivated on the periphery of the capitalist system of the world (first in the United States of the nineteenth century, later in Latin America), however, alongside with the destruction of the facilities of the state of welfare at the end of the twentieth century, it began to spread in the central areas. Its success results from a specific combination of three factors: dissatisfaction caused by class divisions in capitalist societies, parliamentary policy mechanisms and new forms of commodified social communication (i.e. social media). The driving force of populism is fear and a sense of lack of dignity affecting primarily poor people and the lower middle class. However, it is not just a reactionary and negative formation. Also, it can be seen as the striving to strengthen the widespread sovereignty and articulation of interests ignored so far by the ruling classes.

Thuesday, May 22, 18:00
Biennale Warszawa, ul. Mokotowska 29a
Meeting in English
Informal residence: a transformation of allotment gardens on the outskirts of Budapest as a self-help practice in the face of financial dependence
Lecture by András Vigvári

The lecture is about the theoretical background and practical results of anthropological research carried out in the areas of allotment gardens located on the eastern boundaries of Budapest. The objective of this research was to map the changes of allotment gardens after the crisis of 2008 and their new functions, which occurred as a result of political transformations. In the past two decades, the allotments from the era of socialism have been transformed into permanent residential districts. It was one of the key spatial transformations caused by the crisis in the real estate market in the 1990s, which is associated with the broader issue of transformations in the urban and suburban post-socialist residential districts. In recent years, allotment gardens – the central element of a bunch of informal resources, allowing to cope with the consequences of the crisis – have become a shelter for victims of the financialization of the housing market. Paradoxically, this turn of events of physical circumstances (lack of public infrastructure combined with the impossibility of developing crops or farming) and ambiguous legal solutions (unclear administrative status of allotments) has given an impetus to the transformation them into the tangible ground of fighting against financialization.

Wykład Andrása Vigvári jest organizowany we współpracy z  Centrum Europejskich Studiów Regionalnych i Lokalnych EUROREG na Uniwersytecie Warszawskim. Biennale Warszawa dziękuje Kacprowi Pobłockiemu za pomoc w organizacji wydarzenia.

Thuesday, May 29, 18:00
Biennale Warszawa, ul. Mokotowska 29a
What is fair? Corrective justice and other ways of democratizing law in theory and in practice
Lecture by Monika Płatek

The reforms of the judicial system conducted in Poland in recent years have provoked heated discussions about the separation of powers, as well as the independence of the judiciary from the legislative and executive authorities. However, this issue does not give a definite answer to the question about the correlation between the law and the authorities in democratic societies. In a democracy, should the state power be the entity that is supposed to bring justice and watch over its execution? In a democracy, should this state authority be the body that is supposed to administer justice and watch over its execution? Restorative justice popular among others in Canada, Great Britain and Scandinavia – as an alternative to the model of social rehabilitation and retributive justice – puts these issues at the centre of the discussion on the relationship between lawmaking and law enforcement, and the political self-government of the community. It is then a good starting point to consider the role that justice can and should play in democratic societies.

Thuesday, June 5, 18:00
Biennale Warszawa, ul. Mokotowska 29a
Is global democracy possible? Part I: two centuries of democratization
Lecture by Jan Sowa

Parliamentarism has been undergoing a continuous development over the last two centuries. During this time, it has expanded in two directions: geographical, covering many countries on all inhabited continents; and social, drawing into its orbit other groups once excluded from the right to vote (poor people, ethnic minorities or women). This story allows y answer a few key questions for the project of establishing global democracy. Can inclusive, pro-democratic patterns of a political organization be fundamentally incompatible with some cultural norms or values? And if so, what are they? Is capitalism a foe or an ally of democracy? What are the consequences of colonial domination for democratization? What values and social norms are most strongly correlated with democratic culture? Finally, what is the correlation between the endeavour of democratization and the other emancipatory struggles – for the material inequalities, the freedom of media and the empowerment of women and ethnic minorities?

Thuesday, June 12, 18:00
Biennale Warszawa, ul. Mokotowska 29a
Technologies (for) democracy: opportunities, challenges, threats
The talk with Maria Świetlik and Marcin Koziej will be led by Jan Sowa

A rapid development of information and communication technologies in the last half-century has brought ambivalent social and political consequences. On the one hand, we have gained not only new tools of political mobilization to support democratic culture, but also a new sphere of struggle for common goods. Disputes around the so-called intellectual property rights (and monopolistic practices related with them), public domain, fair use or patenting algorithms regularly exceed a narrow circle of experts and sometimes end up with confrontations on the streets, as was the case in Poland on the occasion of the attempt to introduce ACTA. On the other hand, people are being under surveillance on an unprecedented scale, and the practice of tracking users and obtaining their data used by global corporations – like Facebook or Google – go far beyond the wildest fantasies of George Orwell. Technology itself is not responsible for any of these excesses, it is neither good, nor bad, nor neutral – it just is. Without our imagination and determination, it will not automatically be a tool in the struggle for emancipation and an element of a radically democratic political organization, but it will rather become a means of supervision and control.

Thuesday, June 19, 18:00
Biennale Warszawa, ul. Mokotowska 29a
Is global democracy possible? Part II: Visions of the future
Lecture by Jan Sowa

Nowadays, it is difficult to ignore the feeling that humanity is in a crucial moment of its development, which can also turn out to be one of the breakthrough moments in the history of life on earth. A globalizing capitalism and a rapid development of communication and organizational technologies have caused that these days, human societies are interconnected and dependent on each other as never before. The increase of our influence on the natural environment – called in the critical theory the Anthropocene, thus the epoch in which the accumulation of capital leaves its geological imprint on our planet – has caused that we have also entangled other species inhabiting the Earth, or actually the whole of life as we know into this network of dependencies. The fundamental problem is that we do not have any effective global tools for political action that can cope with global challenges. The foundation of a potential form of planetary self-government seems to be one of the most urgent political challenges of modern times. However, what steps shall be taken to make it a global democracy, but not a planetary plutocracy, which carries a burden of the evolution of our political systems? Ideas of possible solutions are suggested by theory, as well as by activism and art. During the last meeting in the cycle, we will look at these initiatives, trying to answer the question of whether global democracy is possible, and if so, how should it be constructed.

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