Freerange Vol. 11: Institutional Love

Tinder Big Brother

Eight years ago Freerange was started while contemplating two profound moments: humans had recently become an urbanised species, for the first time in our history most of us live in cities, and second: amongst the chaos of a recession was what we called at the time ‘the smell of revolution in the air’.

Ten issues of Freerange later the recession continues for much of the world, revolutions did emerge in many places and have proven both inspiring and deeply problematic. Although perhaps more profound for us in the west is the fact that the people and institutions that seemed most vulnerable in the west in 2008 did not fall, but with the support of the state have come out stronger and more resilient.


“In the 20th Century we tried to change the world too quickly.” Slavoj Žižek.

For some, the current problems of the world demand revolution: a swift and pervasive change to different forms of governance and power. We, at least for this issue, are not convinced. We wonder if we’re not already caught up in an endless cycle of revolution played out through tired dichotomies (of wealth vs poverty, of knowledge vs the lack of it), whose only accomplishment seems to be divisiveness, easy categorisation of its main players, boredom, and distrust. We imagine another possibility based on a cooperative state of love and trust, which might take careful radicalism, or radical care. At least on the surface, this is not a call to ‘work from the inside’ or for ‘evolutionary rather than revolutionary’ approaches, but a fresh, critical, and loving participation with institutions.

Revolutionary thinking is a fallacy because it assumes effort isn’t needed to study the practices that have created the situation in the first place, as if good intentions can simply pave over complex problems. ‘We’ are the consequences of engagements with the things around us; natures, technologies, cultures, and institutions. If we do violence to these things we risk doing violence to ourselves in ways we can’t predict or understand. What would happen if we chose to treat the institutions that make us with love and care?

We are interested in writing about: the inevitability of institutionalisation (by this we should be clear that “institutionalisation” could mean “corporatisation” as well as see the “commune” or the “co-op” as different types of institution with similar structures and modus operandi) relaxing and participating, growing old and protecting what works, corporate architecture, the dying of cynicism, ways of loving, a parliament of things (Latour), how I stopped worrying and learned to love the bomb, recycled messiahs, revolution fatigue, amateurs vs. professionals, incrementalism, activist policy makers, adaptation, keeping your day job, benevolent capitalism, what it’s like to start again and again, and if just maybe, we could get it on with Big Brother.


In the final issue of Freerange we will step back and take a more philosophical view of the world. FR12: Everything is Temporary will reflect on the small, quiet, and ephemeral nature of existence and the things around us. So in this penultimate issue of Freerange we offer writers, artists, and readers a final opportunity to engage with tangible, complex, and deeply rich problems of how to act in a world full of institutions and love.