Judith Butler joins Occupy

“We would not be here if electoral politics were representing the will of the people.”

Says Judith Butler at yesterday evening’s General Assembly at Washington Square Park. In the video above, she’s at Liberty Square. Love her.

Transcript after the jump.

I came here to lend my support to you today to offer my solidarity for this unprecedented display of democracy and popular will. The people have asked, so what are the demands? What are the demands all of these people are making? Either they say there are no demands and that leaves your critics confused, or they say that the demands for social equality and economic justice are impossible demands. And the possible demands, they say, are just not practical. If hope is in possible demand, then we demand the impossible — that the right to shelter, food and employment are impossible demands, then we demand the impossible. If it is impossible to demand that those who profit from the recession redistribute their wealth and cease their greed, then yes, we demand the impossible. But it is true that those demands that you can submit to arbitration here, because we’re not just demanding economic justice and social equality, we are assembling in public, we are coming together as bodies in alliance in the street and in the square, we’re standing here together making democracy in acting the phrase, “We The People.” Thank you.

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2 Comments

  1. Posted October 24, 2011 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    She also gave a longer version of this speech in Washington Square Park. Here is the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rYfLZsb9by4

    And the transcript:

    Hello everybody. I’m Judith Butler. I have come here to lend my support and offer my solidarity for this unprecedented display of popular and democratic will. People have asked, so what are the demands that all these people are making? Either they say there are no demands and that leaves your critics confused, or they say that demands for social equality, that demands for economic justice, are impossible demands, and impossible demands are just not practical.

    But we disagree! If hope is an impossible demand, then we demand the impossible. If the right to shelter, food, and employment are impossible demands, then we demand the impossible. If it is impossible to demand that those who profit from the recession redistribute their wealth and cease their greed, then yes, we demand the impossible.

    Of course, the list of our demands is long. These are demands for which there can be no arbitration. We object to the monopolization of wealth. We object to making working populations disposable. We object to the privatization of education. We believe that education must be a public good and a public value. We oppose the expanding numbers of the poor. We rage against the banks that push people from their homes, and the lack of health care for unfathomable numbers. We object to economic racism and call for its end.

    It matters that as bodies we arrive together in public. As bodies we suffer, we require food and shelter, and as bodies we require one another in dependency and desire. So this is a politics of the public body, the requirements of the body, its movement and its voice. We would not be here if electoral politics were representing the will of the people. We sit and stand and move as the popular will, the one that electoral politics has forgotten and abandoned. But we are here, time and again, persisting, imagining the phrase, “we the people.” Thank you.

  2. Posted October 24, 2011 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

    Wow, I am just so happy I came across this. Judith came to speak to a small group of us when I was in college and it was so inspiring. I am so appreciate when feminist thinkers and leaders become involved in social movements, and are willing to put themselves out in public getting behind something like this. Thanks so much for sharing! Wish I had been there when she was!!

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