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.