By Margaret Kohn
Struggling with for First modification rights is as well known a hobby as ever, yet simply because you will get in your soapbox does not imply someone may be there to hear. city squares have emptied out as consumers decamp for the megamalls; gated groups retain pesky signature collecting activists away; even such a lot web chatrooms are run via the foremost media businesses. Brave New Neighborhood sconsiders what will be performed to guard and revitalize our public areas.
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Additional resources for Brave New Neighborhoods: The Privatization of Public Space
13. The Industrial Worker, December 12, 1909. 14. The Industrial Worker, November 2, 1909. 15. Melvyn Dubofsky, We Shall Be All, A History of the Industrial Workers of the World (Chicago: Quadrangle Books, 1969), 179. 16. Foner, History of the Labor Movement in the United States: volume IV: The Industrial Workers of the World, 1905–1917 (New York: International, 1965), 181. 17. The Industrial Worker, January 1, 1910. 18. Dubofsky, We Shall Be All, 191. 19. Rabban, Free Speech, 90. 20. The Industrial Worker, May 28, 1909.
There is always a gap between the abstract ideal and the specific laws and insti-tutions that are formulated to protect it. This unbridgeable gap between the legal and moral dimensions of rights can be the basis for a critique of state power. 30 The contradictions in the IWW’s position also reflect the fundamental dilemma of political outsiders. The experience of the disenfranchised suggests that power does not bend to right, but this realization does not make it any easier to gain power. According to IWW ideology, organization is the key to power but organization is only possible if the basic freedoms of association and speech are protected.
Activists have many ways to reach people who are already interested in politics: phone trees, Internet bulletins, direct mailings, and lectures, to name just a few. The politics of the public sphere, however, is about the kinds of encounters that take place in the course of everyday life. It is a politics of the ordinary. The political encounters that take us by surprise in the streets have the distinctive capacity to interrupt our routines, our insularity, our solipsism. 5 To say that our First Amendment rights can be expressed only in out-ofthe-way places would be to vitiate the character of the public sphere.