reading group


RIGHTS, FREEDOMS, PRIVILEGES 15- 21th of August 2018


Privileges and Identities: Rights and Property

“Since the enlightment and the formation of the nation state parallel to the move from feudalism to capitalism, rights and property, which were no longer God given, have become the major paradigm and the locus for bitter struggle, from the American and French Revolutions, the Communist Revolution in Russia, anti-Colonial straggles, through local labor and civil struggles and in the 90’s the struggle for democracy in Eastern Europe.

The state is the institution guaranteeing and distributing rights, by some theories in return for the power that is given to it by the individuals it governs, and by other theories in the name of public, common and universal good. Although through the 20th century ordinary citizens through mass civil struggle gained many freedoms and privileges, today the neo-liberal global regime of austerity, grants the state with limited resources and limited sovereignty.

This liberal political economy of identity creates atomized interest groups in society that fight the state and each other for gaining democratic privileges i.e. political power and control over resources, through the paradigm of rights. These struggles include: national majority rights – sovereignty; national minority rights – self-determination and cultural autonomy; immigration rights for free movement; the right to life – refugees; gender rights; the right of expression and for information; physical and intellectual property rights; as well as labor rights; the right to housing and education; and more.

However, even with the assistance of international institutions as the UN and the various international courts (International Criminal Court or the European Court for Human rights) we see a drastic decrease in the progress made for ordinary citizens in gaining rights. Property rights are a special category since rights are a social contract, a construct, having rights in itself is a kind of ownership, and therefore property-rights are both included in and include rights as such. In a political society formed after the French Revolution the ownership of rights replaced the ownership of land or gold as the threshold for political representation. As ownership is that which divides the working and middle and ruling classes, so socio-economic rights (labor, housing and education) are often excluded from the corpus of (human) rights, at most they are considered second generation human rights. Labor rights are even considered by some an oxymoron.

Artists and intellectuals whom this workshop mainly addresses, often deal with research, presentation and representation of these interest groups as marginalized groups without knowing the concepts and history of the ideology they are engaged with, although they claim to be politically and socially enlighted, therefore in addition to the reading each group will critically examine from the perspective of rights the artworks participating in the exhibition.

On the other hand in their own status artists and intellectuals are finding themselves in the position of precarious workers, with very little possibility to gain intellectual property rights over their own works. The workshops aim to discuss the conceptual history and contexts that led to this situation and in that allow for rethinking the practices and strategies of struggles for artists and intellectuals themselves and in relation to marginal groups”. (Noa Treister, September 2017, Belgrade)

the workshop is realised without any support. members and supporters we ask to contribute 10 euros a day for food and drinks, non – members 20 euros. schedule will be mailed after registration.

First workshop: Rights

4 working days in the period between 15- 19 August 2018 migrating-kitchen/ Vienna Schwarzhorngasse 1 / 1050

The first workshop will engage with the continental understanding of the concept of rights which reflects also the understanding of a structure of society as an assemblage of individuals, owners of their free will or as an interaction of social relations. It will consider the dialectics between on the one hand, necessity i.e. the physical and social conditions and the way they are perceived by the individual or social norms and freedom as the representation of the individual in political society. The workshop will debate what are the necessary conditions to impellent these rights in terms of the relation of individuals and the state and vice versa, how do groups come together and what does struggle mean in the context of rights.


Kant’s Political Philosophy – The “Doctrine of Right”, Part One Metaphysics of Morals Arendt Hannah – Lectures on Kant’s political philosophy
Friedrich Hegel – Elements of the Philosophy of Right
Marx – Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right


next workshop: Property


The workshop will discuss the issue of the relation between individuality (individual creativity, invention, innovation, entrepreneurship, authorship) as private property and privileges (rights) in the form of physical and intellectual property and creation, knowledge, production as a social relation in the form of collective property, commons or socially owned property. When does property begin? From birth? From the first time a person says “I” i.e. do we own our properties (personal features)? From the first social relation? What is the relation between property and “the proper”? are rights individual or private (property) i.e. does life by way of “the right to life” as a human right become property?


Henry J. Abraham – “Human” Rights vs. “Property” Rights: A Comment on the “Double Standard”

John Christman – Can Ownership be justified by Natural Rights?
Samuel Moyn – Not Enough: Human Rights in an Unequal World (coming out in April 2018)
Branko Horvat – The Political Economy of Socialism

Andrija Gams – Property

Noa Treister is an artist, curator and activist whose work is dedicated to articulation of various possibilities of economic and political relations and scission in society. She finished the Bezalel Art and Design Academy in Jerusalem, Israel and currently is taking Postgraduate studies at the Division of Philosophy, Art, and Critical Thought of the European Graduate School. Since 2011 she is a founding member of the Ignorant Schoolmaster and its committees – a platform for self-education. In that framework she is the author and leading member of the project Naming IT War – cooperation of war participants and anti-war activist of the 90s War in Yugoslavia and Testimony – Truth or politics as well as a member of the project The assembly of Workers Society – joint articulation and legal help of workers’ groups fighting against privatization and for workers’ rights.

please register – at boem(at)postism(dot)org


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.