Howard McCalebb



Occupy (Berlin) Biennale: While overlooking the protest pit of Occupy Biennale with Martin Zet, at the KW Institute for Contemporary Art, during the 7th Berlin Biennale, I had an epiphany.

 

After decades of mulling the merits of various forms of political (action) protest, and finding no viable means that suited my personal disposition, I have finally recognized an approach that sprouted from the seed that had been lying dormant in my mind since the bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama in 1955. I have never been enamored with the noisy march or rally, or the simple demonstration of moral anger, as a political tool. I have always been interested in the value of Instrumental Power. The noisy march or rally is a valid means to express moral anger or outrage with genuine passion. Political protest strategies, however, that exploit instrumental levers can play a much more certain role in achieving a desired result, or in accomplishing the core purpose that arose from the need to protest, in the first place. The use of instrumental leversis a means by which the concrete aims of social protest may actually be achieved.

 

We must learn the lesson that lies in the logic that governs the enunciation of the problem, which will lead to its successful realization. When a problem is properly stated it inevitably finds a solution. Lets examine Le Corbusier’s analysis in the example of the airplane: “The airplane shows us that a problem well stated finds its solution. To wish to fly like a bird is to state the problem badly. To invent a flying machine, that is to say, search for a means of suspension in the air and a means of propulsion, was to put the problem properly: in less than ten years the whole world could fly.”The problem properly stated is not “how do I protest,” it is “how do I end the offending behaviors?”

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