Issue #76 So Far, So Good: Contemporary Fascism, Weak Resistance, and Post-artistic Practices in Today’s Poland

So Far, So Good: Contemporary Fascism, Weak Resistance, and Post-artistic Practices in Today’s Poland

Ewa Majewska and Kuba Szreder

Issue #76
October 2016

Our image of happiness is indissolubly bound up with the image of redemption. The same applies to our view of the past, which is the concern of history. The past carries with it a temporal index by which it is referred to redemption. There is a secret agreement between past generations and the present one.

Walter Benjamin, Theses on the Philosophy of History

In the 1995 movie La Haine, Mathieu Kassovitz’s stinging vision of the plight of the Parisian suburbs, one of the characters tells a joke: “Heard about the guy who fell off a skyscraper? On his way down past each floor, he kept saying to reassure himself: ‘so far, so good … so far, so good … so far, so good.’ How you fall doesn’t matter. It’s how you land.” In Warsaw, this joke has recently come back in style. We repeat it at numerous social occasions, though the majority of our friends do not find it funny. It is too accurate.

So far, so good. The axe has not fallen yet. A majority of art institutions remain active. New museums are planned. Some are already under construction. Grants and stipends are still distributed. Censorship is rare, and, as of now, only two state-run theaters have new directors imposed by the government. Gallery weekends are still organized. Nobody has yet been imprisoned or assassinated. Artists, curators, and intellectuals plan projects, produce artworks, write texts.

Yet, the hard landing is approaching. The fall began in October 2015, when the hard-right Law and Justice Party upset the Civic Platform in parliamentary elections. Since then, the Polish constitutional court has been dismantled. The central courts have been staffed with judges approved by the ruling party, after the former judges were sent away. Publicly owned media outlets—now rebranded “the national media”—have been taken over by nationalists installed by the government. Racial hatred is on the rise and receives official blessing in the government’s tirades against refugees. When the Pope speaks against gender, he is applauded. When he speaks about refugees, he is corrected. There are laws debated in Parliament which, if enacted, would result in the penalization of women for any attempt to terminate pregnancies or even for accidental miscarriages. Fascist marches are organized to celebrate any occasion, most recently to commemorate the anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising in 1944, when 200,000 Poles lost their lives. It is hard to imagine what the father of the Kaczyński twins, a fighter in the Uprising, would feel seeing his own son, Jarosław, reinstalling fascism in the city he once defended against fascist Germany. Mr. Jarosław Kaczyński is now continuing the conservative model first imposed on Poland by his twin brother, Lech, who died in a famous plane crash in Russia in 2010. For legal inspiration the ruling party turns to Carl Schmitt, the major ideologue of Nazi Germany. Mr. Marek Cichocki, the conservative political philosopher, translator of Carl Schmitt into Polish, and active propagator of his thought, was among the deceased president’s main advisors. In Schmitt’s political doctrine the sovereign is beyond, or above, the law. There is no possibility of negotiation and no such thing as accountability for sovereign power. We see this very clearly in Poland today.

Even in the cultural sector, people feel the first breeze of the wind of change. The Ministry of Culture has completely withdrawn from subsidizing contemporary art collections. Slowly but surely, government cultural agencies are taken over by nationalistically inclined cadres, both in Poland and abroad. Cultural policies are reoriented towards so called “historical policy,” a euphemism for the nationalistic rewriting of history. Instructions are being passed to the Institutes of Polish Culture that films such as Ida, our recent Oscar-winning production about trying to cope with the trauma of Polish anti-Semitism, should not be publicly screened.

Poster design for a feminist protest against the crminalization of abortion and miscarriages, 2016. 

Is There Anything “Post-” in Contemporary Fascism?

It is no surprise that this situation provokes a sense of urgency among cultural producers. We do not anticipate a soft landing. The majority of us do not have golden parachutes. But we will not go without a fight. Most people working in culture are trying to do something about the looming catastrophe, even if this is too little, too late—we demonstrate, discuss, disseminate, organize, act. In other words, we struggle against the coming fascism.

A recent discussion on post-fascisms at the Berlin Volksbühne, initiated by Boris Buden, aptly summarized the preconditions for the contemporary return of a political climate similar to that of the 1930s.1 However, it also undermined and questioned any attempt to equate those times with our own. The choice of using the term “post-fascism” rather than simply “fascism” suggests some change or difference in emphasis typical for a progressive, linear vision of time and experience. While this perspective seems correct, it is also important to question this emphasis on difference, which logically leads to claiming an exceptional character for contemporary fascism. This understanding is at odds with descriptions of fascism as a reactionary fixation of desires on a revanchist phallic fantasy, as offered by thinkers like Wilhelm Reich, Gilles Deleuze, Felix Guattari, and Klaus Theweleit.

We understand fascism as a machine which reterritorializes the social forces destabilized by neoliberalism, without attempting to overcome capitalism as such. However, it is misleading to regard fascism as solely a misguided protest against neoliberal inequality. Without a doubt, economic conditions and the injustice inherent to class societies are key factors behind the energies propelling fascism. Yet, considering fascism as simply a misled expression of the egalitarian impulses of the contemporary demos is intellectually inadequate and politically futile.

Fascism operates on many levels. According to its own nationalistic, militaristic, and patriarchal fantasies, it rearranges the social as if it were a patriarchal family. It takes over the state apparatus, reasserts control over women’s bodies, eradicates the public sphere, subsumes the judiciary, and rearranges distribution in order to gratify its supporters and exclude its opponents. The suddenly muscular, bold, masculine bodies of those promoting racism in the streets of Warsaw—the city of anti-fascist resistance during WWII—are today’s war machines fuelled by a misguided identification with the heroes of the Second World War, who, if given a chance, would reject the xenophobic, resentment-driven, misogynist ideology of those who preach fascism in today’s Warsaw.

Wilhelm Reich was right: the masses desire fascism. Merely saying that “they choose it” is founded on a false notion of rational politics, which denies the role of the subconscious. Fascism today is neither neo- nor post-. It is the old friend of despair, a resentful phantasm of masculine power over the feminine body—over actual women and all those identified with them, including whole groups and societies—that has always existed in modernity, especially when modernity is kicked out of its progressive safety-zones and confronted with what it expels: the unmediated myth.2 The decentralized and diffuse character of current fascist insurgencies is puzzling, especially for liberal elites, but also for some on the Left. Nationalists present themselves as right-wing populists, as new voices of “the people,” vocalizing their grievances and articulating new national pride. They rewrite history from below, organize self-proclaimed “antiterrorist cells,” take over historical celebrations. Outside of metropolitan corridors and larger cities, the stranglehold of micro-fascisms on daily life becomes suffocating. Urban, liberal elites are in shock. Even though for over three decades they have dismissed all critical warnings about the growing gap between the urban center and the provinces, they cannot detach themselves from the city. It is only due to the hard work of many people who actively oppose fascism that Poland has not been entirely swallowed by bottom-up fascisms. It remains a field of struggle.

What is new in contemporary fascism? It seems that fascist agents are not entirely fixated on the state and its institutions. It is not a top-down movement. It is a kind of right-wing insurgency, organized from below. This molecular movement rewires fascism’s former articulations, in which hierarchical forms of organization played a major role. Obviously, the state remains the central stake in fascists’ drive to power. However, the Polish version of homemade fascism started long before the Law and Justice Party took over power. Nascent state-fascism is aligned with fascisms-from-below, or with what Deleuze and Guattari called micro-fascisms.3

Aleka Polisiewicz, Wartopia, 2006/8. Lambda prints on acrylic, 80 x 80 cm. Polis’s project renders the Nazi urban plans to rebuild Warsaw, cancelled due to the end of WWII. 

The Rhizomatics of Contemporary Fascism

Fascism is frequently portrayed as a backlash against globalization, as a protest of the localized, ergo disenfranchised, classes against ultra-mobile elites and forces of capital. The same refrain resurfaces in the liberal commentariat’s rationalizations of Brexit, Trumpism, Orbanism, and the Polish version of nationalism. We do not subscribe to these explanations, finding them entrenched in the liberal ideology of “enlightened globalization.” We consider fascism to be not an attempt to block the lines of flight supposedly opened up by neoliberalism, but rather a dynamic machine propelled by global flows.

Many Polish people know the experience of migration first hand. They either joined the most recent wave of economic migration to the UK, Ireland, and Iceland, or participated in earlier migrations, primarily to the US, Germany, and other Western countries. It is therefore astonishing to see the extent of the hatred towards refugees, as well as towards Poles who escape the traditional, predominantly white image of the “Polish citizen” which permeates our daily lives. We could say that what is happening in Poland is a fascist revolution at the level of everyday life.

In Cultural Politics of Emotion, Sara Ahmed rightly warns against investing too much hope in love. She argues that in nationalist, exclusive groups, love is the principal element—love of a phantasmagorical, imagined, homogenous homeland inhabited solely by those who “are just like me.” Love of the “same” as opposed to love of the other. The latter is a love that dare not speak its name, not because it is unconventional, but because it is hated.

To détourne Simone de Beauvoir’s famous maxim into an antinationalist statement: Europe, with Poland at its core, did not become multicultural, it was born that way. Indeed, migrating Poles demand inclusion anywhere they go. And they seem to go everywhere. Yet at the same time, they deny all non-Europeans entry to Poland (which they consider to be a bastion of “Fortress Europe”). Probably, they would gladly expel half of the Polish population, chasing out Jews, queers, ecologists, leftists, and emancipated women. When we say “In Poland, meaning everywhere,” we are twisting a phrase from Alfred Jarry’s Ubu Roi. Nevertheless, wherever we turn, the pictures we see are strikingly similar to what has happened already in our homeland. People seem to be enjoying colonial mock-multiculturalism abroad (think: expats, cheap properties in warmer yet poorer countries, mass tourism) while turning into outright xenophobes in their own backyards.

In 2015, Isabell Lorey delivered a lecture in Warsaw as part of the Former West project. In the lecture she claimed that the Western model of the autonomous subject has always required keeping all of Europe’s “others” in precarity. This is not only a reminder of how and why we should geopolitically contextualize and historicize precarity. This is also a necessary component of any analysis of fascism. Both fascism and precarity can be seen as two sides of the same coin—of the alienated part of European heritage, the dystopia of the supposedly enlightened civilization of the West.

Considering the insidious nature of micro-fascism, the old alternative between socialism and barbarism resonates more than ever. Fascism, perceived from Warsaw, seems to be a politically conservative and authoritarian articulation of the same sentiments of fear, cynicism, and opportunism that Paolo Virno identified as intrinsic to the precarious conditions imposed by neoliberal capitalism.4 Despite their claims to be or do otherwise, fascists are cynical and opportunistic, and their popularity is motivated by anxiety. The masculine and patriarchal power-drive of fascism articulates these sentiments, providing a false reconciliation of the desires aroused by consumer capitalism—false, because it fails to undermine inequality or to address the systemic impossibility of satisfying those desires, which capitalism endlessly provokes. Paradoxically, this fallacy is a condition of fascism’s popularity, as fascists do not need to challenge the contradictions of neoliberal common sense; they rather cynically ride on its wave of dissatisfaction. For this reason, fascism “spontaneously” permeates social desires and penetrates the public sphere, even before being superimposed by the state apparatus.

As Isabell Lorey suggests, presentist democracy could provide an alternative to the perils of the precarious multitude.5 We would add to this, after Virno and Hardt and Negri, that a solidarity of the multitudes, the emancipation of the general intellect, and the emergence of a commons could also provide such an alternative.6 However, we also agree with Gayatri Spivak when she suggests that the subaltern cannot speak.7 The epistemic violence that results from the constant process of reinstalling the subject of the West as the universal subject proceeds as a constant erasure of excluded voices whenever they even approach the possibility of gaining visibility. The colonial process of representation works as a “catachresis,” always producing a shadow that dissimulates the excluded voice. The Polish case, however, clearly shows that one does not need an external colonizer to exclude subaltern classes. One can be colonized from inside by comprador neoliberal elites. Contemporary fascism sometimes claims to be a voice of subaltern resentment. In fact, it only replaces international neoliberal elites with local ones, without changing the structure of public discourse. In a structurally similar yet distinct way, progressives, due to our anticapitalist politics, are being eradicated from public discourse not only by fascists, but first and foremost by defenders of the neoliberal utopia of productivity, meritocracy, and consumerism.

Fascism is a direct result of the crisis of the bourgeois public sphere and the systems of distributing authority and expertise inherent to (neo)liberalism. It fills the discursive power vacuum created by the eradication of leftist political positions and systems of solidarity. In Poland—similar to what has happened worldwide—the Left has been viciously ravaged, ridiculed, dismissed, and erased by (neo)liberal media for the last thirty years. After this onslaught, fascism is the only populism left standing.

For many years now the media spectacle of phantasmagorical symmetry has presented the remaining anti-fascists as leftist radicals, equally ridiculous as their fascist counterparts. According to this narrative, the only reasonable fellow is a neoliberal expert (it is no surprise, then, that people have been rebelling against “expertise”). According to this logic, a good talk show would feature Hannah Arendt and Adolf Hitler as misguided lunatics, with the middle ground held firmly by Margaret Thatcher. This perturbed logic of supposed symmetry regards fascism as yet another legitimate point of view, foreclosing the possibility of the sort of non-platform strategy necessary for genuine anti-fascist politics.

Jakub de Barbaro, Agnieszka Polska, Janek Simon, Szalona Galeria [Crazy Gallery], 2016. Exhibition views from the project as installed in Bojadła, Poland (left) and Józefów, Poland (right).

Weak Resistance and Post-artistic Anti-fascism

Responses to the complex character of contemporary fascism are equally multidimensional. There are many battle lines and thousands of anti-fascist fronts. Anti-fascist struggles unfold variously as political mobilizations, interventions in public space, and everyday nonheroic disobedience, or “weak resistance.”

Already in 1976, a Czech philosopher, Jan Patočka, wondered about the experience of a world in transition.8 Although politically persecuted for his active opposition to the Communist Party, he did not limit his perspective to the local situation of his country. In 1968 and after, he conceptualized the “solidarity of the shaken” and asked how the phenomena of decolonization and resistance would impact future generations. In 1978, another Czech, Vaclav Havel, wrote the essay “Power of the Powerless,” where he discussed the rebellion of the everyday that was so important in the events of May 1968. He argued that the powerless have political power and bring change through everyday gestures of disobedience.9 This logic of the political agency of the weak is what makes it possible to understand today’s excluded as those who, even if they “cannot speak,” can have an impact on the political, sometimes even changing it without planning to. This scenario—a new beginning from a place of fear and uncertainty—is similar to the conditions for the appearance of a territory as described by Deleuze and Guattari in Anti-Oedipus. Importantly, the core of artistic creativity is found in the same place: a place of fear and weakness, not of power. The political agency of the weak—weak resistance—is therefore much more appropriate than traditional forms of resistance for discussing artistic responses to the micro-fascist takeover of desires and souls.

Our interest in weak resistance merges with our fascination with the realm of post-artistic practices, which unfold beyond the narrow confines of the gallery-exhibition nexus. In our discussion, we will follow in the footsteps of the research begun during the recent exhibition “Making Use: Life in Postartistic Times” (curated by Sebastian Cichocki and Kuba Szreder for the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw, 2016).10 “Post-artistic” practices should not be read as some sort of pessimistic “end-of-art” scenario. On the contrary, this term, coined already in the 1970s by the Polish theoretician of conceptual art Jerzy Ludwiński, denotes a realm of expanded artistic practice.11 Karen van der Berg and Ursula Pasero, following Rosalind Krauss, call it an “expanded field of art”; Gregory Sholette talks about “artistic dark matter”; Stephen Wright and Basecamp explore “plausible art worlds”; and John Roberts analyzes “art’s secondary economy.”12 This is not a “new” tendency either; the Museum of Arte Útil, initiated by Tania Bruguera, has traced forms of socially actualized art back to the nineteenth century.13 Such practices, developed outside the gallery-exhibition nexus, do not only rearticulate what it means to make art contemporarily. They also enable us to rethink the role of art in anti-fascist struggles. They embody the universalist, progressive, emancipatory, and antiauthoritarian legacy of the artistic avant-gardes.

Natalia Romik, Nomadic Shtetl Archive, 2014. Installation views of the mobile project in Józefów, Poland (left) and Kock, Poland (right).

A Summer of Nomadism

The summer of 2016 in Poland was a season for nomadic, post-artistic, weak resistance. The artist and architect Natalia Romik ventured to southeastern Poland with her Nomadic Shtetl Archive, visiting over ten formerly Jewish towns.14 The archive was conceived, constructed, and operated in close partnership with local NGOs and residents. They joined forces in order to hold a vigil for the communities of murdered Jews who lived in these towns before 1939, maintaining their heritage. During her travels, Romik took the Nomadic Shtetl Archive to local cultural houses, staying in every town for a day and displaying reminders of Jewish history. She collected scattered memories, pictures, and stories of the inhabitants. She also organized walks to formerly Jewish places, screenings about Jewish heritage, and discussions about its current status. The mirror-covered, synagogue-shaped façade of the Nomadic Shtetl Archive blended into the landscape of small towns, haunting the field of vision, just as the skeletons of formerly Jewish buildings refuse to let go of tragic memories. The main function of Nomadic Shtetl Archive was to weave a spectral Jewish presence back into the social fabric, without imposing a ready-made version of this past/presence—thereby avoiding archivistic violence and combining stored knowledges with storytelling and lived histories. It joined what is out of joint, mediating between the living and the gone, them and us, then and now. As Jacques Derrida argued, the archive has a power over the future. It does not only regulate the past.15 The Nomadic Shtetl Archive is a mobile center of weak resistance against the nationalist rewriting of history that is intrinsic to a fascist program. It materializes memories and hybridizes identities in a non-heroic act of refusal against the whitewashing of Polish anti-Semitism. Everyday racism is an effect of these manipulations, just as a perpetrator who refuses to expiate for his sins is eager to commit them again.

Crazy Gallery is another example of post-artistic anti-fascist nomadism.16 It is organized by a core team consisting of Kuba de Barbaro, Janek Simon, and Agnieszka Polska, known from the notorious anarcho-artistic cooperative Goldex Poldex. They are joined by a crew of designers, artists, and curators (such as Katarzyna Przezwańska, who helped design the project). Crazy Gallery visited small towns and villages all around Poland, setting up impromptu exhibits of contemporary art, occasional lectures, and concerts. Its curatorial program was ironically modeled after propagandistic travelling Soviet exhibitions. However, instead of presenting state propaganda, Crazy Gallery was a manifestation of rebellious, dadaist humor—a demonstration of the everyday power of artistic imagination. The gallery presented works by numerous artists who infuse daily reality with poetic gestures, such as Adam Rzepecki, a Polish artist from Łódź who vowed to raise Poland’s highest mountain, Rysy, by one meter, so that it would reach a height of 2500 meters above sea level (currently it is “just” 2499 meters tall). Documentation of this and other “actions” and projects was presented to audiences unaccustomed to the language of contemporary art, winning them over through ironic idealism and a mixture of perseverance and lighthearted humor. Rzepecki’s piece epitomizes Crazy Gallery, which fashions itself as a mobile center for an anarcho-artistic gospel—living proof that another world is possible and that artists can help subvert the fascist stranglehold on social desires.

Similar ideas guided the artists and activists who organized the collective performance Polacy! Refugees and Citizens, an intervention staged in August 2016 at the Museum of the Warsaw Uprising and outside the Warsaw headquarters of Frontex, the EU border agency.17 When planning the action, artists Dorian Batycka and Ehsan Fardjadniya had proposed a performative historical montage that would remix the fraught memory of the Warsaw Uprising—the ultimate fight against a fascist occupier—with the current plight of refugees. The performative intervention in the museum consisted of a nonviolent reenactment of PTSD symptoms (fainting, screams, repetitive body movements) and the secret placement of a détourned pamphlet about the Warsaw Uprising. Afterward, participants marched to the nearby Frontex headquarters while carrying a small coffin and singing a Kaddish song.

During the action Ehsan, who was born in Iran, was “arrested” by the private security personnel who guard the skyscraper that Frontex calls home. No surprise there—he was the only one of us with a dark complexion. Later, real policemen arrived and briefly detained Ehsan, until they verified his Dutch citizenship and released him. In the meantime, several lawyers on hand informed us that under an “antiterrorist” law passed in January 2016, any person deemed by the police to be a potential “risk to our country” can be held without charges for up to two weeks. (Certainly, a person of Iranian descent is considered such a threat by default.) Poland is not a safe country for people of Arab and Persian descent, with the government’s racist statements echoed by football fans, neo-Nazis, and ordinary “patriots”—or even sometimes by our neighbors and fellow academics. It seems that only art spaces, whether state-run or private, remain free of these influences.

Janek Simon’s design of a Rhizomatic Star (2009) for Goldex Poldex and Free/Slow University of Warsaw. 

Institutions of the Commons

Our interest in weak resistance and the extra-institutional realm of post-artistic practice should not be read as a disdain for public art institutions. On the contrary, we vehemently believe in the necessity of protecting public art institutions, as they frequently serve as public outlets for anti-fascist struggles. For this reason, art spaces might actually become important sites of anti-fascist resistance, if they can overcome their inaccessibility to the masses, which frequently contradicts this noble goal. In order to bridge this gap, we want to think about public institutions as institutions of the commons-under-construction.

From our perspective—which is definitely a situated one—the question of whether we can institutionalize the commons does not sound absurd. It is a relevant question in a context shaken by the brutal reintroduction of private property in 1990, but not stirred by any serious negotiation of capitalist privilege. As many cases show, public art institutions established during “real socialism” and not dismantled in the post-1989 wave of neoliberal euphoria seem to preserve democratic principles of participation and inclusion. It is not our intent to idealize these organizations—they suffer from many pathologies, especially when it comes to relationships with artists and employees. However, it seems relevant to discuss whether transformative practices of the commons can rearrange institutional territories. As freelancers, we are only too aware of the risks of self-organization. Our temporary autonomous zones are so ephemeral. Too often we feel doomed to merely dream about a progressive future, unable to achieve a general revolution of the everyday, which requires stability and time. The urgent need for social change prompts our reflections on artistic institutions as potential hosts of a radicalized commons.

We imagine future institutions of the commons as fulfilling a double role. On the one hand, they could become active agents in moderating a (counter-)public sphere, thus undermining the fascist takeover of public discourse. On the other, they could respond to and sustain self-organized forces acting from below, countering micro-fascisms. Borrowing a phrase from Antonio Negri and Judith Revel, we call such progressive institutional practices the “common in revolt.”18

Exemplifying this kind of institutional practice, the preparations for the upcoming Polish Congress of Culture demonstrate that anti-fascist resistance need not take the form of a defense of the (neoliberal) status quo; rather, it can lead to a reinvention of public institutions as institutions of the commons.19 In Poland, the legacy of cultural congresses reaches back decades. They were usually organized at times of historical and political urgency, like the Congress of 1981, which concluded the Carnival of Solidarity and was disrupted by the introduction of martial law on December 13, 1981. The most recent Congress of Culture was organized in 2009. It was a top-down event with a distinctive neoliberal agenda. The luminaries of Polish transformation converged to celebrate what they perceived as the success of the past two decades of freedom and prosperity. (Today their toasts and boasts ring especially hollow.) The organizers sought to privatize the cultural sector and demote public institutions. These manipulations provoked sector-wide resistance. Together with our friends and colleagues from the independent research cluster Free/Slow University of Warsaw and Goldex Poldex, we joined this movement.20 We formulated our own “blueprint” for a progressive transformation of the culture sector, and published the “Manifesto of the Committee for Radical Change in Culture,” in which a group of artists, curators, and academics wrote:

For the Polish authorities, culture appears to be just another life-sphere ready to be colonized by neoliberal capitalism. Attempts are being made to persuade us that the “free” market, productivity, and income-oriented activities are the only rational, feasible, and universal laws for social development. This is a lie … It is not culture that needs “business exercises,” it is the market that needs a cultural revolution.21

Additionally, we self-organized alternative summits, conferences, and barcamps. Collectively, we also published articles and books which contributed to a growing critique of neoliberal cultural policies and attempted to convince both the Ministry of Culture and cultural producers to defend the not-for-profit character of culture.

After seven years of hard organizational work by initiatives such as the Trade Union for Art Workers, the Citizens Forum for Contemporary Art, and Citizens for Culture, our marginal stance has became the new normal. Responding to the fascist threat, the 2016 Congress will take an entirely different approach from the one organized in 2009. It is co-organized by artistic trade unions and programmed from below, by the demos of cultural producers, three hundred of whom formulated proposals for discussion topics and panels. Based on these discussions and panels, a new, democratic charter for culture will be drafted. It will aim to reformulate cultural policies by making a big leap forward, beyond the false alternative between fascism and neoliberalism. Even more importantly, the directly democratic mode of organizing the Congress promises to build trust, forge solidarity, and enhance labor relations within the cultural sector, which has been haunted by poverty, precarity, and inequality. At the very least the Congress will provide a forum for discussing such issues—a forum which, in a time of emerging fascism, we so desperately need.


The Post-faschistische Idylle, with: Boris Buden, Ewa Majewska, Ana Ofak, Ana Teixeira Pinto, Nika Radić, David Riff and Zoran Terzić; 19 May 2016


See Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer, Dialectics of Enlightenment, Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2002.


Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1987).


Paolo Virno, A Grammar of the Multitude (Los Angeles: Semiotext(e) 2004).


Isabell Lorey, State of Insecurity: Government of the Precarious (London: Verso, 2015).


Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Commonwealth (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2009).


Gayatri Spivak, Critique of Postcolonial Reason (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999).


Jan Patočka, “Solidarity of the Shaken,” in Heretical Essays (Chicago: Open Court Publishing, 1996).


Václav Havel, “Power of the Powerless,” in Citizens Against the State in Central-Eastern Europe, ed. J. Keane (New York: Routledge, 2010).


See .


Jerzy Ludwiński, Notes from the Future of Art: Selected Writings of Jerzy Ludwiński (Eindhoven and Rotterdam: Van Abbemuseum and Veenman Publishers, 2007).


Rosalind Krauss, “Sculpture in the Expanded Field,” October 8 (1979): 30–44; Art Production Beyond the Art Market?, eds. Karen van den Berg and Ursula Pasero (Berlin: Sternberg Press, 2013); Gregory Sholette, Dark Matter: Art and Politics in the Age of Enterprise Culture (London: Pluto Press, 2011); Basecamp Group & Friends, Plausible Artworlds, 2013; John Roberts, Revolutionary Time and the Avant-Garde (London: Verso, 2015).


See .


See .


Jacques Derrida, Archive Fever: A Freudian Impression (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996).


See .


The artists involved, who called themselves “Anonymous Stateless Immigrants Collective,” were Dorian Batycka, Ehsan Fardjadniya, Aleka Polis, Edyta Jarząb, Damian Cholewiński, Łukasz Wójcicki, and Ewa Majewska.


Antonio Negri and Judith Revel, “The Common in Revolt,” UniNomade, July 12, 2011 .


For the website of the 2016 Polish Congress of Culture, see .


For the Free/Slow University of Warsaw, see .


The manifesto was written and signed by Roman Dziadkiewicz, Grzegorz Jankowicz, Zbigniew Libera, Ewa Majewska, Lidia Makowska, Natalia Romik, Janek Simon, Jan Sowa, Kuba Szreder, Bogna Świątkowska, and Joanna Warsza. See .

Fascism, Nationalism, Globalization
Eastern Europe, Libraries & Archives, The Commons
Return to Issue #76

Postscript: We wrote this field report from Poland—that is, everywhere—during a time marked by two significant anniversaries. Thirty-six years ago, in late August 1980, the independent workers’ union Solidarność emerged. And September 1 marks the seventy-seventh anniversary of a tragedy which every Pole is painfully aware of. It is precisely in this non-time of our present that weak resistance resonates so loudly. Between the future past and the present future, the fundamental alternative “socialism or barbarism” remains vital. Only the common in revolt can lead us out of this situation, without losing what we hold dear. To the Spanish slogan “No Pasaran” (“None shall pass”) the Polish therefore add “Nie ma wolności bez Solidarności” (“There is no freedom without solidarity”), artistic or otherwise.

The massive protests of women in Poland on October 3 this year gathered some 150 000 participants in 103 public demonstrations throughout the whole country. On October 6 the Parliament rejected the barbarian anti-abortion law. While celebrating this first major victory over the ruling authorities, As the ruling party wants to add more restrictions to the access to abortion, pre-natal care and contraceptives we plan to further mobilize for a Women’s Strike on the October 23.

Ewa Majewska is a feminist philosopher of culture. She studied philosophy, French literature, and gender studies at the University of Warsaw, where she has been a lecturer since 2003. In 2014-16 she was a fellow at ICI Berlin. She is the author of two monographs: Feminizm jako filozofia społeczna, about feminism as social philosophy; and Sztuka jako pozór?, about art and censorship. She has written for Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, Nowa Krytyka, Przegląd Filozoficzny, Przegląd Kulturoznawczy, Kultura Współczesna, and Le Monde diplomatique, among others. She lives in Warsaw.

Kuba Szreder was awarded a practice-based PhD from the School of the Arts at Loughborough University in 2015. He works as an independent curator and researcher. In 2009 he initiated the Free/Slow University of Warsaw. He is the editor and author of several catalogs, readers, book chapters, and articles.


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