Sure, there’s infrapolitics—there always is, and there always will be; wherever there’s oppression, there’s resistance. That’s one of the oldest slogans on the left. But it’s also a simple fact of life. People don’t like being oppressed or exploited, and they respond in ways that reflect that fact. That and a buck fifty will get you on the subway. “Daily confrontations” are to political movements as carbon, water, and oxygen are to life on this planet. They are the raw material for movements of political change, and expressions of dissatisfaction that reflect the need for change, but their presence says nothing more about the potential for such a movement to exist, much less its actuality.
At best, those who romanticize “everyday resistance” or “cultural politics” read the evolution of political movements teleologically; they presume that those conditions necessarily, or even typically, lead to political action. They don’t. Not any more than the presence of carbon and water necessarily leads to the evolution of Homo sapiens. Think about it: infrapolitics is ubiquitous, developed political movements are rare.
At worst, and more commonly, defenders of infrapolitics treat it as politically consequential in its own right. This idealism may stem from a romantic confusion, but it’s also an evasive acknowledgment of the fact that there is no real popular political movement. Further, it’s a way of pretending that the missing movement is not a problem—that everyday, apolitical social practices are a new, maybe even more “authentic,” form of politics.
When predominantly white “activist” types converge on public space downtown, it’s called Occupy Baltimore (@occupybaltimore), and it’s allowed to continue relatively unmolested by the state for many months. When predominantly black “non-activists” converge on that same space, it’s a “chaotic” “mob” and is met with the full force of the state almost immediately.