From the new issue, Metropolis M no. 5: The current political climate requires a different kind of politics than the one most of us grew up with, that of coalition forming and consensus politics. So claims architect and cultural researcher Markus Miessen. He wants to break with the culture that seeks the highest common denominator and argues for a politics that magnifies differences instead of bridging them.
Could you explain what ‘Crossbench Praxis’ is?
‘Crossbench Praxis is a theory I am working on at the moment, a specific role that I am developing, which works towards an independent and pro-active individual without an appointed political mandate, who retains an autonomy of thought, proposition, and production. This role entails that in a given context one neither belongs to nor alligns with a specific party or set of stakeholders, but can openly act without having to respond to a pre-supposed set of protocols or consensual arrangements. Especially in the context of the recent culture crisis in the Netherlands, the role of the crossbencher – as they call the independent politician in the über-conservative British House of Lords – becomes increasingly relevant. I am hijacking this role from this conservative setting in order to use (or misuse) it as an analogy: it proposes a way of acting, in other words a practice, which operates on the basis of alternative and self-governing political parameters.’
What is the advantage of Crossbench Praxis compared to a more moderate debate, such as the Polder Model, or the Third Way?
‘Crossbench Praxis aims to open up a fresh debate, not as a theory, but as a way of acting politically. I would not say that there is an advantage, as I am not trying to sell a new type of refridgerator or flatscreen TV, but what I would claim is that it introduces an alternative means of triggering an urgently needed conflictual debate amongst those people who have been forced to act consensually by default. A Dutch friend once told me that there is a saying in the Netherlands: “Don’t stick your head out too much, otherwise it may be chopped off.” I think this is quite telling.’
Read the full interview in Metropolis M, no. 5, 2011.
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