Towards a Philosophy of Protest: Dissent, State Power, and the Spectacle of Everyday Life is an inquiry into the nature of protest, legislative efforts at its criminalization, and the common good. Using the method of montage, Clayton Bohnet juxtaposes definitions, etymologies, journalism on contemporary events, philosophy, sociology, mainstream and social media content to illuminate rather than obscure the contradictions in our contemporary understanding of dissent and state power. By problematizing the identification of the good of a political community with the good of the economy, Bohnet develops a political ontology of a people who find their values subordinated to a good identified with the smooth flow of traffic, the forecasts of capital, and the predictability of everyday life. A text populated more with questions than authoritative answers, this book asks readers to think through particular impasses involving protest and the possibility of egalitarian, participatory politics, such as the risks taken and courage involved in a society that places the expression of political truths above the collective benefits of the well-tempered economy and the dangers of protesting, of dissent, in an era that refers to protesters as economic terrorists.
Clayton Bohnet teaches philosophy at Central Washington University.
Part 1: Protest and the Commonplace
Part 2: Dissent, Crime, and Heteronomy
Part 3: A Polis on the Edge of the Void
Part 4: Anarchy, Political Community, and the End of Protest
About the Author
"Apropos of its topic—protest and its criminalization—this remarkable text deploys the method, or rather, the counter-method of montage to render its critical analysis. This brilliant methodological decision not only reproduces formally what it seeks to capture, but also functions as a form of academic protest that embodies the spirit of its subject. Bohnet’s book implies that the history of protest, like the political events it recollects, is necessarily revealed as montage, and so the analysis of this history would seem to require the same form of revelation. The book is faithful to its subject on multiple counts and enacts a refreshing demonstration of the Dadaist impulse, which Bohnet seizes upon to perform startling new readings of establishment figures from Rousseau and Kant to Agamben and Badiou."
"What distinguishes Bohnet’s work on protest and its criminalization is the method of montage he derives from Benjamin and Heidegger. It is deliberately partial, fragmentary, and incomplete. It is intentionally bound to the time and place of its composition. But these self-confessed limitations—accidents and anecdotes of protest from the year 2017—also give Bohnet the freedom to range as a provocateur across a dizzying domain of figures, drawn from contemporary French philosophy, classical modern political philosophy, Thoreau, and the contemporary journalism and literature of protest; meditations not quite randomly provoked by the events of 2017, including the Women’s March, Standing Rock, Black Lives Matter, and other moments as heterogeneous as the method or anti-method that Bohnet deploys."
9/16/2020: The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) featured this title in a roundup of current and forthcoming literature for their segment “First Amendment News.” Link: https://www.thefire.org/first-amendment-news-271-new-and-forthcoming-books-issue-the-2020-2021-list/