Lefebvre on revolutions

8985963801_e882def780_zI am now reading Henri Lefebvre’s Critique of Everyday Life. With all due respect to the philosopher, I picked it up as summer reading, firstly because it’s not directly relevant for my research, and then partly because it is not referenced – as you will notice below – and partly because it’s very long (905 pp.) and I can’t afford that sort of dedication during term-time. I am now in the second volume. The first volume; I couldn’t really get my teeth into it, so I took the liberty to do some skipping. The second one’s progressing much more nicely, it’s a tighter text.

I’d like to quote here a passage on revolutions on the second anniversary of Gezi events. The atmosphere in Gezi is often compared to a revolution, which it was, for a limited period of time and on a very small scale. It definitely was effervescent.

“Only days of revolution, those days ‘which are equivalent to twenty ordinary years’ (Lenin), allow everyday life to pursue history and perhaps briefly catch up with it. Such days occur when people will not and cannot go on living as they did before: the everyday as it has been established is no longer enough, and it affords them no satisfaction. And so they shatter the boundaries of everyday life as it is lived into the domain of history. The conjuncture is momentary. They separate once more, at least in our experience of so-called ‘modern’ life and society they do. […] Sometimes the political theorist will recommend that situations mature slowly until such time as the lived and the historical coincide again; patience has revolutionary virtues. At other times, the very same theorist of political history will recommend quickening the pace, on the assumption that humanity only sets itself problems it is able to resolve, and as historical moments happen only briefly and infrequently, anyone who lets them pass by will pay dearly for his lack of impatience and imagination… “(297-98).

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