The foreword for the New World Academy Reader #3: Leaderless Politics, the third reader in the New World Academy Reader series committed to the exploration of the role and potential of art within a variety of political struggles across the world.
It is with great excitement that we present you with New World Academy Reader #3: Leaderless Politics, the third reader in the New World Academy Reader series committed to the exploration of the role and potential of art within a variety of political struggles across the world. Initiated by the artist Jonas Staal and established in collaboration with BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, New World Academy (NWA) is an academy for cultural activism that fosters exchanges between representatives of concrete political organizations, artist, and students, so as to stimulate new critical alliances between the fields of art and progressive politics. Each intensive workshop—and its accompanying assembly of artists, students, activists, thoughts, and artworks—departs from a concrete example of the symbolic and practical efficacy of art in negotiating changes in contemporary politics and society. Following the sessions Towards a People’s Culture and Collective Struggle of Refugees: Lost. In Between. Together, the respective curricula of which have been organized in close collaboration with the cultural workers of the National Democratic Movement of the Philippines and the collective of refugees We Are Here, the session Leaderless Politics has been brought to life through a rich dialogue between Staal and the open-source advocates of the international Pirate Parties.
As a supplement to the workshop and series of projects initiated under the title of Leaderless Politics, this informal selection of texts offers an introduction to the democratic imperatives of the international Pirate Parties and the implications that their programs hold for the future of art production. As the failures of our political, social, cultural, and economic systems drive us deeper into a state of permanent insecurity—economic and otherwise, combined with rampant inequality and impending ecological disaster—we are, perhaps more urgently than ever before, faced with the crucial task of imagining alternative ways of being, and acting, together. The leaderless and horizontal structure of the international Pirate Parties offers one such distinct and compelling articulation of the democratic project. Insisting on a variety of critical issues pertaining to the digital age, including but not limited to the desire for free and open circulation of knowledge, direct democracy and participation through liquid feedback, government transparency, freedom of speech, network neutrality, and the demand for users’ privacy, the initiatives of the Pirate Parties bring with them a myriad of prospects with far-reaching impact—not only on the world of art, but on the world at large.
I wish to take this opportunity to thank all contributors to this project: the participating artists, students, writers, advocates of open source and leaderless politics, my colleagues at BAK for their enormous efforts to make the realization of this project possible, and our financial partners. Last but not least, I would like to thank the artist Jonas Staal for an inspiring and enriching collaboration through which we all have learned what art can become. Having concluded the last of the three inaugural work- shops of NWA, I am delighted that the project will continue as a long-term undertaking, finding its temporary home in various corners of the world—and hopefully occasionally returning to its co-establishing base at BAK.