Cumartesi, Ocak 17, 2015


For nearly three decades, ever-increasingly glocalized social theatre goes through a host of social struggles all of which well outbraved corpo-dividualization (partly inspired by Deleuzian term “dividiual” as fragmented or divided subjectivity). They perseveringly refuse and/or illegitimize the old taxonomy of political identity only being represented in within the scope of conventional politics. However, those subalterns opposing the very enclosure and subjugation of the “self”, unwaveringly take to the streets to reclaim their integrity hardly won during the era of social welfare states; namely the rights and freedoms long-slashed by power elites diagnosed with surplus-mania. Multitude of politically driven collectivities mobilize and pour into streets in dribs and drabs to create a “shock effect” on the nevre endings of this so called “late capitalism”. They often seem  to enjoy “use of political masks” of any kind; be it simple snow masks of 90s EZLN to sopisticated Guy Fawkes of late Occupy movements. Really, what is that mask thing? What use were these masks? Are these just to “blur” the real essence of subjectivity?

Well, the reasons are in deed “there and then”. Political use of masks has initially to do with illegitimation and disregard of taxonomy of political identities “claimed” (solely confines to act of claim) to be represented by Left, Right and catch-all parties alike. In doing so, social agents pronounce the political continuum illegitimate along with the underlying rationale embodying it. Looking through the lens of social movements paradigm, referring to Nail, the use of masks as a disidentifier allows social agents to speak and interact for themselves, in their own name. Instead of embracing the first singular “I” (the self-identical subject), masks provide for these agents to create a new form of third person subjectivity: “we” (Nail, 2013, p.34). Use of identical masks amongst protesters would allow these political subjectivities into a cohered group belonging by bringing them into alignment. Such belonging surely forms strong ties and solidarity amongst each and every single agent too. This would then create a sense of “anonymity” disallowing top-down asymmetries and those forerunners itching for a vanguardism. I suppose Subcommandante Marcos may perfectly conclude the point at hand articulating, “. . . if you want to see who Marcos is, see who’s hidden behind the mask, then take a mirror and look at yourself. The face you see there will be the face of Marcos, because we are all Marcos” (Gulewitsch, 2011, p. 87-88).

Political masks signify a “cartography of non-representation” as these agents cover up their face turning into fraternal twins. By way of concealing their faces, no glimpse of physiognomy can be traced by the “last mohicans” (by this I imply police forces) This makes things more and more difficult for the police to distinguish identity of these agents. This would also makes arrests a long shot. Morover it wouldn’t come easy to single out and terrorize individual agents or groups amongst a multitude. Addingly, concealed faces undermine being seen by the “Big Brother” and disrupting intra-group “hierarchies so police can not identify “a leader” (because there is not one) (Nail, 2013, s.36).

As a concluding remark “to be continued”, “all political power emanates from the people and its purpose is to help the people. The people have, at all times, the inalienable right to alter or modify their form of government" says General Command of the EZLN (1993). So, what use were these masks!

Erhan Özcan

Works cited
EZLN (1993). “EZLN's Declaration of War”, accessed on, 16.01.2015
Gulewitsch, N. (2011). “Ya Basta! A Cry that Echoes Beyond Borders: Zapatismo and International Solidarity Networks in the Zapatista Uprising”, McGill Sociological Review, Vol.2, p.77-91

Nail, T. (2013). “Zapatismo and Global Origins of Occupy”, Journal for Cultural and Religious Theory, Vol.12, No.3, p.20-35