Sometimes I wonder what pushing boundaries really mean. In art as new technologies and materials have come into being from manufacturing processes and early computer augmentation we have seen new genres of art arise. Duchamp is known for popularising a urinal as a piece of art which has been canonised in art history, we have ‘Piss Christ’ and any number of boundary-pushing works. You can see it from a Marxist perspective, in that the boundaries simply open up economic possibilities for anything that is seen as a historically significant work. The economy then is simply growing as the boundaries grow. You could argue the same for genres of music that arise and the endless sampling of a sound from pioneers or sweaty rock gods, whatever.
The argument I want to explore is that boundaries, especially in relation to fashion, ideas, and social norms are fairly flexible compared to tackling power structures. If you were to interpret the New Testament as a warning, we are free to make a number of associations, yet the warning is, that if you are truly radical you will be crucified. Look at Julian Assange for example, he was truly radical and subverted technology to enhance journalistic reach. He brought the power structures’ secrets into the public realm to bring justice and understanding. Jesus took on the powers of his time by being subversive and challenging the powers of the time. This correlation is pretty meaningless but if you really push boundaries. Not fashionable or socially enhancing you won’t get very far.
The fight for social justice on all fronts is a good fight nonetheless, but the real work of the squatters in Sydney in the seventies was to delay development and fight the powers in charge. That was a bloody fight against police brutality and all the dirty games the developers could muster which lead to in rare cases deaths and disappearances all bankrolled by the government. Nobody in power really cared about the social struggles for rights because at the end of the day those things didn’t really get in the way of making money which delivered power and privilege. I am not saying that those boundary-pushing efforts were not important but these endless social debates and boundaries are not the boundaries that lead to the warning written into the fabric of the Western democratic system. That is if you try to bring power to justice you will be killed.
Look at what happened to Saddam, Gaddafi, and next Assange, there are many more, of course, the sheer amount of corpses left behind by challenging the powers that be is uncountable. That is what the Western world is built on. Don’t be truly radical or else we will crucify you. The smaller social boundaries as I said do have an economic impact like how Hip Hop has become an industry but then those power structures are on a smaller scale. The all-encompassing powers that encircle, or the system that some of these smaller players rally against is the true power with no one to answer to. They are the ones who make sure everyone knows the warning no matter what they believe.