martes, 20 de noviembre de 2012

The Dark Side of the Public Sphere


This post explores how a deliberative society can learn to coexist with counterhegemonic practices as to prevent the public sphere becoming a mechanism for hegemonic ruling. In particular we notice the contrast between Habermas deliberative society and that of counterhegemonic activism.

Some key words are: conspicuous silence, action as counter-hegemonic speech, the contraction of logocracy to the private sphere (realm of intimacy?) and the refusal to rehearse the theater of public logocracy, the counterhegemonic role of intimacy (as a right and practice) [1], etc. Some historical examples are to be found in religious insurrections and resistance, ethnic and class resistence, etc. Also important is to inlcude unpopular cases such as the silent politics of corporative lobby and military coups. The former will provide a more realistic assesment of the implications of counterhegemonic rights and practices.

This debate also revisits (eventually, I guess) some ideas developed in the third quarter of the XXth century regarding the legitimate means for power.

Reassesment of Deliberative Dynamics

Within a genetic conception of deliberative action [2], counterhegemonic politics does not constitutes a direct threath to a deliberative society, on the contrary, it provides a key to understanding its configuration. 

Reassesment of Hegemony

The reluctance to public deliberation can be interpreted as antidemocratic behavior but also as a counterhegemonic action denouncing the fallacy of hegemonic freedom. Mechanisms to distinguish one from the other, in case there are, should be developed. This problem demands a careful revision and probably a political stand on the definition of hegemony.

Rights, Ecology and Politics

The right of association is in a way a right to conspire, it allows to create the critical mass to surpass the cognitive inertia of hegemonic representations. This right is not only protecting the conspirators from physical repression but of the more subtle repressions of hegemonic power. Sort of nursery habitat for narratives.

Claiming the Theatre of Politics: Rhetorics and Strategy [3]

Within the pulse between speech and action there might be more pedestrian motives. We can see behind the pulse of one media against the other an individual or subcutural strategy to take advantage of di facto inequalities. Take for analogy prose and lyrics within the opera; those which are better at prose would tend to give it more importance than lyrics, and the other way around. In our case, speech will favor eloquent voices while action will favor executioners.

By no means the multiplicity of voices we find in contemporary society implies a more egalitarian medium than action. Deliberative-Democracy is an animal as mythological as it sounds; after the dust of noise settles, only the eloquent prevails. Perhaps one property of speech which creates a complementary contrast (... I know) with action is that the former gives liquidity to whatever both carry (power?). And in this sense those who are good at action will eventually feel the need to get a form of speech as to give liquidity to their action-capital. I am thinking of the early bourgeoise which despite having a sense of priorities wear objects reflecting their (anti)status or beliefs. They are taking part in speech-action politics by means perhaps not of explicit speech but by the aesthetics of persuasion, allusion or intimidation.

Moreover, the dichotomy between action and speech is increasingly unclear as we approach a world that resembles the words of  Istvan Csicsery-Ronay: "When hallucination and reality collapse into each other, there is no place from which to reflect." Speech is becoming action and action is increasingly configured as speech.

[1] La intimidad juega un papel fundamental en la gestación de una esfera pública. Es como si la esfera pública fuese una condensación de pequeñas burbujas concebidas bajo la noción de la intimidad.

[2] By genetic insight we mean an understanding of the effective action of deliberation limited to congenial views. Is like sexual animals that can only have offsprings with genetically similar peers, nevertheless leading eventually to the formation of new species.

[3] I use the word "Theater" in a two-fold way: as simulation and as "theater of war".

jueves, 11 de octubre de 2012

Looking forward: what we can learn from Lance Armstrong's landing

Lance Armstrong's doping affair becomes emblematic within the fin de siècle. It marks the decline of the American myth. A myth about the natural relation between freedom and fairness. There was a time where this was an ethical belief rather than a policy belief. Once written in a paper it started to be unwritten in the heart. Freedom and fairness where attached by the unifying field of conscience. But not any more. They were to take very different paths. A very similar fate is shared by democracy. It is the fetishism of the written law.

Classical economics states that there is no such dichotomy between the ethics and the law. In the characteristic optimism of the enlightened era they embarked on an axiomatic program for economy. Although we cannot neglect many of the successes of such approach, economy was far to be a tractable system. Within enlightenment coexists many conflicting beliefs, notably that between pragmatism and the rule of law, between empirical evidence and axiomatics. Within a tractable system —paradigm of classical economy— there is no conflict between empirical observations and the written laws pretending to describe them. Hence, from this classic perspective, empirical reality doesn't depends on the medium which pretends to reproduce it, whether is culture or law. This paradigm has proven to be insufficient. Evidence is build not only in economic history but also in the wider realm of physics. The often misinterpreted quote from McLuhan might be suitable to describe our actual state of affairs: "The medium is the message." We should not expect from a liberal law the same outcome that from a liberal culture. Policy should be framed as to allow for a liberal culture but should not pretend to replace the liberal culture.

 Beyond the challenges of implementing a complex expression of ethical liberalism we need to reinterpret liberalism in itself. We need to go beyond liberalism as a belief. The lessons from the first half of the XXth century are not to be interpreted as the proof of the success of liberalism, they are to prove the failure of the combined policies from the corresponding historical projects. Liberalism has its own accumulated failures. Both lessons should be taken as an invitation to deconstruct history rather than avoided. To go beyond liberalism as a belief means to question the position of the individual as the absolute reference of history. This is not just some abstract demand, it is a realistic assessment as the power of humanity takes dimensions way beyond the realm of human affairs. Human civilisation has become one of the major (anti)ecologic forces. It is not just the responsibility of humanity to preserve others types of life, it is also about the development of humanity beyond the idea that human civilisation should not cross the dessert but become a casino half the road.

Coming back to our sporting heroes what we see in the doping affairs is the fear and incapacity of liberalism to imagine a world where the human expression no longer corresponds to the liberal individual. I am not justifying Armstrong but I want to show how symptomatic is his case to our times. What to do when humans want and indeed be more than humans? Is not just cheating,  Armstrong is not the only high profile athlete involved. Moreover, is not sophisticated doping an almost canonic practice in modern economy? Where to rule the difference between fair advantage and unfair? Should we rule it according to which structural and/or pragmatic units? Technology has destroy the temple of liberalism, the individual. The skin is no longer a di facto defence. And as doping (as any other corporal extension) deconstructs the physical individual, other forms of technology deconstruct the individual as an ethical, economic or legal unit. As the skin becomes the more superficial, we need to keep asking ourselves, if an ethics where the individual is the starting point has not become an ethics where the individual is the ending point.

viernes, 27 de julio de 2012

Tejiendo red

Ediciones simbióticas es un proyecto de ejercicio crítico de colaboración abierta. Algunos de sus autores, entre ellos Álvaro Cuadra y José Ramón L. Alba, tratan el tema de la hypermodernidad. También tienen ediciones digitales de libre acceso, por ejemplo, Hyperindustria Cultural.

Interview with Boaventura de Sousa Santos

The struggles behind the multi-scale distribution of sovereignty amid globalization: who defines what is global and what is local?

Globalization, Societies and Education. Vol. 2 (2), July 2004.


"what we call globalization is always the successful globalization of a particular localism" 

[La anterior afirmación merece una crítica desde la perspectiva de transiciones de fase y otros fenómenos de física de multiples cuerpos. También vale la pena establecer una frontera entre la anterior afirmación y las teorías objetivistas de última generación.]

"Once its redistributive functions were neutralized [starting from the 1980s], democracy became the ideal form of government for global capitalism"

"Here in lies also the deepest source of the crisis of left politics. Since whatever is being proposed as a reform (education, health, social security, etc.) is definetly for the worse, the left is often forced to defend the statu quo. And the left have never been very good at defendig the statu quo."

"In my view, we may be entering a period in which societies are politically democratic and socially fascistic. This new fascism is a social regime, not, as in the past, a political regime."

sábado, 30 de junio de 2012

The Domain of Anti-Historic Materialism

Jean-Antoine Watteau's study of soldiers.

We are effectively inverting the relation of reality posed by historic materialism. Well, not strictly, let me put it this way, we are creating a society that at many levels inverts the economy of reality as formulated by historic materialism (Hegemony/Production). Indeed, we do so every time we pretend that someone should drop off his weapon because is not ethical, or when we pretend strong people not to bully the physically weak. In fact, we are, at the micro and not-so-micro levels, creating a society where power is not the direct reflect of physical conditions (and here 'direct' seems to be a key word). Is not just the logic of an hegemonic class, but the hegemony of collective superstructures. In these structural levels (scales of complexity), the effective laws defy the universal laws of historic materialism just as the laws of physics could be 'cheated' effectively in reduced dimensions (nevertheless we hear about the possibilities of feedback between social scales as in Giddens). This aggregated reality takes the form of simulacra and determines, as individuals, our very notions of success, happines, power. We, humans are now living in the guts of who knows which organism. The image of the teenager totally alienated by marketing, is in a way, the most pure form of our times. Sometimes I think that for many people –one by one– is much more useful a guide to power in the simulacra that a guide to power in the hardcore of reality.

Aren't neo-revolutionary attitudes such as "fight fire with fire", "hacking the system", "strike like a virus", symptomatic of this turn? If revolution can be made in terms of the battlefield of simulacra by the strategic use of the hegemonic constructions, then it seems inevitable to confront the question: what then is hard power suppose to assure? perhaps the answer is, to assure the reality of simulacra and by that I mean, to assure simulacra as the battlefield of ultimate power. And even if is not the ultimate power, at least a battlefield of power conflicts which are able to engulf class struggle. This is a thesis which seems to be backed by history: why have the control of mass media become so strategic in modern revolutionary warfare? And for the not-so-radical, it is a sufficient proof the role of mass media in the 'wide' political spectrum of modern democracies. In evolutive biology one may think on the brain, as it used to be a muscle. But to understand the analogy one should think that 'the muscles used to be part of the brain', the muscles used to be active part of decisions in the organism, but then they started to separate, letting the brain take as much decisions as the precedence of a material body allowed to.

Licencia para soñar

La plusvalía es clave en toda forma de desarrollo socio-politico, socio-económico y socio-cultural. Parece absurda vista desde la mentalidad del individuo cartesiano. El capitalismo fundamentalista solo acepta la plusvalía que contribuye al desarrollo económico de la sociedad, el capital; el paroxismo socialista solo acepta la plusvalía que contribuye al desarrollo político de la sociedad, la burocracia; el paroxismo cultural solo acepta la plusvalía que contribuye al desarrollo cultural de la sociedad, la educación de inspiración humanista. Es preciso recordarles a cada uno de estos fundamentalismos, que la sociedad requiere de todas y cada una de estas plusvalías. La plusvalía ajena, siempre se presentará absurda. La plusvalía es el margen de libertad de cada ámbito; libertad que le permite soñar (que no dormir), proyectarse en diferentes futuros probables y ambiciosos, inventar sus propias utopias. Esto es un papel fundamental de la vida, el crecimiento. Todo esto lo digo porque en la actualidad las utopias del mercado de capital reinan, las utopias políticas sobreviven, y la utopia académica ha sido declarada por el capital y por una enrarecida democracia como enemigo público.

Related texts: The Teleology of Education (Ernst Blog).

viernes, 8 de junio de 2012

The Structure of Technological Revolutions

Palabras Claves: Tahrir Square, Manuel Castells, Cybernetics.

Technological disruption may render a temporary instability on power structures. I call this a vortex of revolution. The power structures within the vortex are, up to fluctuations, at equal ground, with the 'powerless'. It doesn't last much time, if the powerless doesn't consolidate the revolution fast enough, the power structures eventually manage to domesticate the new technological conditions. In a way, the reaction of the status quo is like developing robust algorithms on top of an algorithm which has new features threatening the structure of older features –those we associate to old power structures–.

PD. : And so, what should be the natural question after the latter descriptive hypothesis? I personally answer that with a call to reflect on the issue of velocity of action which often compromise the predictability of the outcome of our actions. Zizek had already point out that we should act now and negotiate the future later: "don't negotiate in enemy territory". The fact that time is running against our expectations of structural change (which, don't forget, are driven by a pragmatic diagnosis of the present state of civilization) may support Zizek's call. In fact, the outcome of power is very difficult to compute (we still have problems predicting the behavior of proteins!). Usually what happens is that we negotiate power and the outcome of such negotiations often takes the form of pseudo-a priori political theories.

lunes, 28 de mayo de 2012

Revisiting the Simulacrum from the Perspective of Financial Market

Key words: commodification, simulacrum, fetishism.

My personal interest is to import the perspective of modern finance to understand the commodification of knowledge [1]. For the financial market there is a continuum between utility value assets and the most liquid of assets –most often– money. But this spectrum started out from utility value in a non-standardized exchange economy. It's development was denounced by Marx as commodity-fetishism. This step corresponds to the 'perversion of reality' in the development of simulacrum (Baudrillard). But the spectrum between 'solid' and 'liquid' values is not just an evolutionary relation, as is stated by Baudrillard, it also constitutes a simultaneous interplay as observed in the financial markets. This sets a limit to schizophrenia –although the financial market may not be the best example– since the new realities are to be articulated into the older –without discarding functional replacements–.

It would be interesting to understand the mechanisms that channel and bifurcate the aggregate of knowledge as to satisfy the dual demands of production and financial utility. In particular, it could be useful to address the problem in terms of 'formats'. Take for example 'formalism' as a format for knowledge. It is suitable for precision and generalization. At the same time, 'generalization' is a suitable format for 'critical transmission' (efficient in terms of shannon's information), as in DNA. Contrast this with educational formats (pedagogy), technical formats (manuals) or aesthetics as format for fast reading processes. Behind the apparent label of formalism may be hidden a production of distinction in Bourdieu's sense, and therefore a commodifying process since knowledge loses its substantiality (perhaps one should say ironically, its original substantiality) to serve the ever alien purposes of power . How does commodification gets in conflict with the other uses of knowledge? how does commodification parasites the legitimacy of knowledge given by the other uses. This conflict is paralleled by the relation between the financial markets, the industrial sector and the labor unions.

It is also interesting to see how the very form of the knowledge-asset starts to 'mutate' from utility oriented to liquidity oriented. Just as the fathers of the nation with all their flaws become as compact as a coin, how does knowledge mutates to become an object oriented to self-control the decentralized emission ('fake copies' for central banks or academia). Rationality whose enlightened foundation is based on decentralized value starts to become his antithesis as it experience the pressure of commodification. It may take (and have taken) the form of baroque credentials, it may take the form of Books! they've been the units of knowledge after all. They may take the form of long doctoral thesis or of 'important' and insubstantial connections between authors or ideas –which nevertheless show that 'you know what you are talking about'–. All this extra structure coming from the very demand of commodification could be resumed in the impression: the quality of knowledge has become as alien to utility as the quality of paper money.

Related posts: Money as Simulacrum: The Legal Nature and Reality of Money by John J. Chung, Baudrillard's Radicalization of Fetishism by Mike Gane.

[1] In a way this study has been carried by many thinkers. Baudrillard extends the Marxist critic of commodity-fetishism to the realm of culture. Bourdieu points out the use of knowledge as an apparatus of distinction (social seggregation). Norbert Elias and Foucault have already study the nexus "power/knowledge".

viernes, 30 de marzo de 2012

¿Y por qué del ser solo quedó el estar?

Pink Floyd's video (you know which).

Es un problema connatural a la modernidad. Esta se caracteriza por separar el objetivo de sus medios. Lo que contrasta con la sociedad tradicional, donde no existe dicha dicotomía. En este sentido la idea del ser es incompatible con la modernidad. La primera modernidad tiene problemas para conciliar diferentes dominios de la realidad. Pretendió extender su fenomenología a dominios claramente fuera de su alcance. Quizás fue por motivos reaccionarios, como en la modernidad temprana, donde la batalla era de frente contra la tradición; o por arrogancia, embriagada por sus triunfos tecnológicos. Un ejemplo de ese absurdo, fue la crisis de la compasión en los esquemas morales. Al extraer el hacer del ser, se dio rienda suelta para juzgar el mal hacer como una falla de la voluntad y no del ser –lo que invitaría a la compasión–. A pesar de que nociones como objetivo y medios, voluntad y mérito han existido en épocas anteriores; dado el lugar privilegiado que ocupan en la modernidad, se podría jugar con la idea de que nacieron con ella. Es también ilustrativo, llevar el razonamiento moderno ha extremos absurdos para así conocer mejor el impacto que tuvo su desbordamiento. Pensemos en un animal como el sapo (en alusión a la parabola de Jody en The crying Game). Quizás la modernidad diría que el sapo es sapo en la medida que tiene éxito su objetivo de ser uno. El ser como triunfo de la voluntad! Pero esta noción del ser, si bien descubre nuevas posibilidades (en particular descubre una nueva dimensión de la libertad), también es limitada como lo evidencia su contraste con la tradición. Bien podríamos decir que según la tradición el sapo es sapo porque "es", o porque se deja ser, deja fluir su sustancia, deja fluir su deseo, su instinto [1]. A pesar de la diversidad interna que aportan los diferentes énfasis, la oposición modernidad-tradición no deja de ser un esquema útil.

Importante también es recalcar que la modernidad se reproduce a través de instituciones, factorías cuyo fin es el desollar al individuo tradicional. A la salida de la línea de ensamblaje salen corazones ciegos. La mayoría de esos corazones sin ojos, no sobreviven; terminan como embutidos de carne. Los corazones ciegos que sobreviven se convierten en el alma de las empresas modernas, la gerencia, la burguesia. El prototipo de estas fábricas es la escuela la cual arrebata el espacio y tiempo físico en el que otrora transcurría la tradición. Es allí, en la escuela, donde nos enseñan a estar en vez de ser. Y sin embargo, haría mal en presentar esta historia como una tragedia pues nuestra actual condición tiene origen en las revoluciones emancipadoras –el nacimiento de las repúblicas, la industrialización, la revolución sexual, etc.–. Mi punto es que el ritual de la escuela, como el evangelio y la eucaristía en la tradición cristiana, juega un papel fundamental en el ethos de la modernidad. De allí la importancia de su deconstrucción.

P.D. Ahora recuerdo que Slavoj Zizek en uno de sus libros realiza una crítica sobre la incapacidad del hombre moderno (?) de asumir una ética "existencial"; en su lugar, actuamos bajo la hipótesis de un ser impersonal ("si yo fuera romántico, diría que te amo"). Quizás este conflicto esté relacionado con la escición del ser aquí expuesta.

[1] En la critica posmoderna a la primera modernidad se recupera esta idea, pero se incluye la noción de voluntad como resistencia a las amenazas de alienación: querrán domesticar al lobo y es ante esta amenaza que el lobo decide atacar a la modernidad con modernidad. Logra reconocer que existe una amenaza sobre su identidad y nace su voluntad de defenderla. Al hacerlo reconoce implícitamente que su identidad no es inmanente; el lobo se desolla antes que llegue el cazador. Es la guerra armamentista de la identidad, una deconstrucción progresiva. 

sábado, 17 de marzo de 2012

Reciclando a Marx y Marx al rescate del reciclaje

En la sociedad de consumo, existe una dicotomía entre el productor y el consumidor. Y si bien el consumidor es a su vez productor de otros artículos, en lo que atañe a un artículo en particular, siempre hay un sujeto activo (el productor) y un sujeto pasivo (el consumidor). La noción de materia prima como objeto pre-procesado ha permanecido restringida al circuito industrial. Una vez llega el "producto" al destinatario "último", no se espera una contribución de este al objeto consumido. Es aquí donde la noción ambientalista del reciclaje toma un significado más amplio. No solo se trata de un movimiento ecológico, también involucra a la dignidad del consumidor. Este reclama su derecho a participar en la (pos)producción de lo que consume. Los otrora consumidores pasivos ahora desean consumir producción. Ya Marx lo había señalado: el consumo pasivo aliena la identidad –y la dicha– que se deriva de la producción. Pero su puesta en práctica había estado limitada no solo por razones políticas pero técnicas. La digitalización del mercado de consumo ha permitido desempolvar esta vieja ilusión. Los pollos de la granja han descubierto que el maíz no es un objeto de "consumo", sino materia prima. Han descubierto lo que muchos han querido ocultar, consumir es procesar. Y están dispuestos a reclamar el valor que su producción (de consumo) pueda tener en el mercado. Persiguen el derecho a capitalizar su consumo. Precedentes pueden encontrarse en la consumación de la relación producción-producto presente en las vanguardias estéticas del siglo XX. Expresión que a su vez tiene precedente en la ausente dicotomía entre el fin y los medios en las sociedades altamente tradicionales.

jueves, 1 de marzo de 2012

La modernidad como farsa, punto y fragmentación

Existe una aparente contradicción en la reivindicación literaria –ya no
solo filosófica– de lo local como lugar legítimo de lo universal. Esta
coexiste con el papel reconocido de la literatura, y en particular de la
novela moderna, como canal para entender al otro. Si lo local sin
limites fuese suficiente, no habría necesidad de redescubrir lo
universal desde la perspectiva del otro, luego la novela carecería de
valor en este sentido.
Una salida a esta aparente contradicción está en delinear la noción de
lo local como un límite sobre el cuerpo de la cultura antes que del
individuo. Sin embargo esta propuesta es problemática ya que el
énfasis en el cuerpo de la cultura es tan dinámico –en perpetua
génesis de autonomías y complementariedades– como el individuo
mismo. Una alternativa que considero viable es reinterpretar el
"entendimiento del otro" que ofrece la literatura por un "reencuentro
con el otro a partir de un lenguaje deconstruido –atravesado,
intersectado, cercenado– por la multitud de perspectivas". No es difícil
reconocer que el movimiento de alteridad es antítesis de lo universal –
en lo universal no existe la otredad–. Es la forma en que multiplicamos
la alteridad lo que logra el milagro. En otras palabras, la literatura
preserva en su expresión diacrónica la experiencia alterna y
redescubre lo universal en su expresión sincrónica –en las ruinas de
un lenguaje otrora palacio de un yo tan rígido como nuestra
autobiografía–. No se puede hacer suficiente énfasis en que no nos
encontramos con el otro al pensar como él. Allí no hay encuentro pues
hemos dejado nuestro yo en el camino. El único encuentro posible
sería desde la regresión del ser –cuya jaqueca es el sentimiento de
incertidumbre– que ofrece un ejercicio mutuo de deconstrucción a
través de la alternancia iterada.
 Junto a los dos tipos de modernidad a los que se opone la anterior
propuesta podemos resumir su catálogo de acepciones: (1) como
depuración soterrada de perspectivas; la modernidad como farsa. (2)
Aquella que parte de las expresiones mínimas del lenguaje; la
modernidad como punto. Puede confundirse con la primera si se
limita en la práctica su potencial recombinatorio. Y (3) como
multiplicación e intersección de perspectivas; la modernidad como

 Posdata: cuando me dirijo al aspecto ortodoxo de la modernidad refiriéndome a el únicamente como farsa no le hago completa justicia pues solo muestro la lectura posmoderna. Tras la formación de un canon no solo se esconden estrategias de control político, también facilita, casi que precede, el desarrollo del lenguaje en toda su extensión –no solo la de control–. Cuán fértil es la relación entre canon y lenguaje depende de forma no trivial con las particularidades del proceso político-epistemológico
sobre el cual se trabaja.

domingo, 26 de febrero de 2012

¿"Pachamámicos" vs "Modérnicos"?

"mejores o peores, [...] cualquier propuesta construida desde lo modérnico-desarrollista debe de ser objeto de discusión política –no inferiorizado desde posturas modérnicas auto-superiorizadas, es decir confirmadas solo desde la autoridad discursiva de su propia historia, y completamente fuera de la política".

Personajes como Eduardo Escobar deberían ser reconocidos más allá de los circulos académicos. Junto a Boaventura de Sousa y otros notables latinoamericanos han intentado llevar la descolonización más allá del pensamiento reaccionario. Una pequeña muestra en el texto ¿"Pachamámicos" vs "Modérnicos"? publicado en D3E/CLAES.

viernes, 17 de febrero de 2012

Zizek and the enterprise of 2nd Modernity: reflections of a groupie

One of the main points that Slavoj Zizek makes on public
communications is the defense of logocracy –which I understand as the political counterweight of theory over democracy and over pluralism in general–.

I divided this post in two parts. First I bring Zizek's words from an interview in the Harvard Crimson Magazine. Then I elaborate some free thoughts in questions related to the first part which I refer to as a pretension to fund a second modernity. 

Part I

«FM: It seems that a similar deadlock appears in the context of both the
economic crisis and global warming—experts can’t seem to predict
them, nor will politicians or society act to stop them.

SZ: I especially hate, from my own experience, when people say, “Oh,
who could have predicted this [economic crisis]?” No. I know a couple
of leftists and empiricists who exactly predicted this. These are not the
kinds of cheap catastrophists who all of the time give bad predictions
and then something happens so that they go awry. No, no. They were
very precise and predicted this crisis. Paul Krugman said something
deeply true. A guy asked him, “But now that we know, wouldn’t things
be radically different if we were to know 10 years back what we know
now?” He said, “No, no, it wouldn’t. The system pushes you to act in a
certain way.” The illusion is much stronger. Like, you may know that
there may be a catastrophe, but nonetheless, we would have done
exactly the same thing. I mean, it’s no longer a question of knowledge.
Today many, even sociologists, have this wonderful idea of how,
although we live in a society of knowledge—even scientific knowledge
—[it] is becoming more and more contingent, non-binding. I think it was
the German theorist Ulrich Beck who drew attention to the simple fact:
today we speak about expert opinions. Are we aware how paradoxical
this term is? The idea is that we ordinary people have opinions. They
tell you the truth. Now experts all of a sudden are telling us different
opinions and we have to decide how, who knows, if even they don’t
know. This is the tragedy of our predicament of freedom of choice. The
problem is...we are often forced to choose without having serious
cognitive coordinates of how or what to choose.... The price is that
science is no longer a homogenous science but it’s turning into kind of
a pluralistic field of opinions.

For example, I once had a debate with a quantum physicist. And he
accused me, “You stupid guys with your French theory, total bullshit.”
He made fun precisely of this: “You can just say whatever you want.”
And I told him, “Fuck you! Look at quantum physics: literally anything
goes. You can claim that there is a Big Bang, that there is no Big Bang,
there were multiple Big Bangs...” It’s incredible how, when science
approaches a certain limit, how open it becomes. It’s as if anything you
can imagine, you find scientists who advocate. I’m not saying science
is just laughable. It is real. I’m just saying how difficult it is to decide
today without a proper cognitive base. We are more and more
compelled to this.

Andre Depui said that the problem when people say, “Oh but we don’t
know if it’s really global warming.” The problem is that if you want to
wait until we really know, it will be, by definition, too late. Because we
will really know when the catastrophe is here. This is maybe one of the
great things that has to be decided as a specific problem—in Germany
there were working with certain proponents of risk society—how to
decide some basic rules of decision-making in situations that are
cognitively non-transparent. You have to decide because not doing
anything is also a decision. You have to decide, but you don’t know.
The situation is not transparent.»
 Part II

 Just as liberal constitutions despite his dissimilar nature has proven to
be a good and perhaps necessary complement for the survival of
democracy, we should begin to ground a deeper political role to theory.
Theory understood in this context as the dialectical corollaries between
object and subject. Take for example scientific theory, whose object
has an empirical nature. Or metaphysics whose object is language in
its broadest logical sense –I think I am running out of examples–. An
important thing to answer is, what is the difference between this spirit
and the one present in the first modernity whose achievements seems
to be shadowed by his spectacular failures. I believe this is a question
which will be haunting us, despite the abstract answers we can give to
it. But this abstract answers are important as much as they are the
starting point of a praxis. I will provide two non exclusive answers: one
is that we are no longer looking for a totalitarian regime where there is
no room for alternative realms or sources of power. It doesn't means
that decisions on every realm of existence should be an homogeneous
aggregate of political sources –as in scientific, democratic, legal,
tradition, etc.– it means that to every realm of existence there will be
an heterogeneous aggregate of political sources arranged in a
functional basis –and whose function is to be addressed from
constitutional reforms–. Secondly, we have a serious commitment with
reformism. First modernity was in many ways an incomplete modernity.
One of its outstanding absences was the notion of falsifiability which is
politically addressable through proper reformist mechanisms and by
securing the rights and relevance of political opposition. But falsifiability
cannot simply come from other political sources. To avoid democracy
fortuitously ruling down scientific theories and vice versa we shall give
special powers to the falsifiability coming from the same political and/or
epistemological sources.

In a way all these points pretending to take distance from the first
modernity but also from postmodernity resemble the motto of orthodox
societies, who –unlike traditional societies– aware of the unavoidable
presence of heterodoxy –with all his vices including that of selfish
liberal interests– designed pragmatically consensual rules of play. And
by pragmatically I mean going beyond the mere tug of war which
usually ends up in ambiguous, far from synergetic, policies.