With All Caveats: Manifesto Writing in an Age of Uncertainty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleProfessional

Abstract

Is the manifesto still of any value? Is it dead, or should it be? In fact over the past decade the manifesto has assumed a renewed relevance. There has been a rise in manifesto writing online as well as on the streets. Manifesto writing is a tonic for stagnation – in this, at least, the Futurists were right. It generates radical new ideas and frees us from the confines of cautious speech in times that demand action. Unlike the essay, which is more tentative – in Theodor Adorno’s words, ‘fragmentary’ and ‘partial’ – the manifesto is confident and totalising, performing an authority it does not fully possess. It uses this confidence to bring imagined futures to life in the present. Manifestos are hybrid, multivocal, and multimodal; blending text and image, disciplines and audiences. They span different (sometimes competing) registers; online and offline, spontaneous and premeditated, ephemeral and historical. Manifestos are unique in that they have long represented ‘bodies in struggle rather than simply ideas in contention'. They elevate physical, energetic, and accessible expression. Since the rise of the internet, the global character of the manifesto has developed in strikingly new directions. The manifesto has announced new tendencies at the crossroads of technology and feminism, from Donna Haraway’s ‘A Cyborg Manifesto’ to Legacy Russell’s Glitch Feminism: A Manifesto, and technology and decolonisation (‘The Mundane Afrofuturist Manifesto’, ‘The Decolonial AI Manyfesto’). The manifesto has become ubiquitous as both a global and popular form, absorbed into mainstream culture through advertising, activism, and social media (where manifestos proliferate and mutate). The Covid-19 pandemic saw an explosion of online manifestos trading old certainties for new possibilities, calling for protests in the present, and future transformations. Going forward, we believe that the manifesto can serve, in the words of Bruno Latour, ‘Not as a war cry... but rather as a warning’. It is a form fit for the challenges ahead, capable of sketching new visions and bringing urgent causes to light.
Original languageEnglish
JournalFoAM Anarchive
Publication statusPublished - 24 Jan 2023

Keywords

  • Manifesto
  • Anarchive
  • Multimodality
  • Activism
  • Avant-garde
  • Online Culture

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