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<nettime> Governing the global home
Ewen Chardronnet on Thu, 7 Jun 2007 19:32:09 +0200 (CEST)


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<nettime> Governing the global home


Hi,

Following Konrad Becker's text, I post here some more from the 
"Laboratory Planet" journal. It is published in 2 versions, french and 
english, and was presented first time at the "Espionage technologies and 
art" conference, during the great Art+Communication festival, 31st may - 
10 june 2007. More to follow. Hope the english translation are ok.

bests
Ewen

Governing the global home

by Sophie Gosselin and David Guignebert

/
"« The global home » is under the threat of devastation. [...] 
Politicians are responsible for the future."
Jacques Gaillot (a man of God)1/

The imbalances caused by technico-scientific developments to the world's 
eco-system during the 20th century have driven citizens and scientists 
to call on politicians to react by seriously addressing the new 
ecological deal. At the moment, we can note that politicians as well as 
transnational corporations2 are slowly beginning to integrate the 
ecological dimension into their plans.
The political parameters of their global and long-term strategy now tend 
to be organised around this new dimension. They talk increasingly of 
'sustainable development', 'respecting bio-diversity', 'fair trade', 
'ethical investment,' in the fields of economy, culture or health3.

Ecology is becoming a political imperative, issuing its own summons : 
Humans, be responsible and take care of this world where you live and 
which you are destroying ! Humans, face your destiny collectively !
But, this passage from an everyday, individual, personal responsability 
to a collective one, this move from an ethical to a political mode, 
through the ecological stake, does not just respond to an ideological 
function by the recuperation for the dominant minorities of a discourse 
or a practice that used to be subversive. It redefines politics, what we 
used to call 'politics' and 'ways of doing politics'.

With the concept of 'biopolitics', Michel Foucault introduced a new 
analysis of the transformation of these 'ways of doing politics' over 
the last two centuries. Biopolitics is the 'way of doing politics' of 
the government, of governance, and it finds in the (neo)liberal theory 
the basis for its implementation. This political mode involves managing 
populations, considered as a living resource. Life has become its 
assignment4. But, even though this political practice has grown in the 
20th century, we think it is now being challenged by the new eco-logical 
deal.

In the passage from national to regional politics, experimentation is 
the command that governs the reshaping of the democratic frame. The 
citizen now has to be 'consulted', to allow for her/his 'greater 
participation' in the city's democratic life. 'Sustainable', 
'diversified', 'fair', 'ethical' politics seem to go together with the 
imperative to become 'participative' as a new mode of integration of 
citizens. The citizen finds her/himself ever more embroiled in the field 
of politics, of eco-politics.

We attempt here to define a concept of eco-politics that differs from 
the notion of ecological politics, as it was defined by some thinkers, 
such as Ivan Illich, André Gorz or Cornelius Castoriadis, at the advent 
of the Information Age. We do not wish to propose or formulate a new 
political theory, but to analyse a new technology of power, to study the 
implementation of a new political logic, theorised in terms of 
ecosystemics5 and later recuperated more or less efficiently, by a whole 
series of political contructs, either mainstream (following the 
'sustainable development' model, for example) or alternative (of 
political ecology, mostly on the extreme left). If politics is the 
practice which enables us to find ways to organise our collective 
existence, then our approach to the political question goes against any 
attempt to construct a political model, i.e. to conceive of a system 
that integrates a priori the plurality of conditions that make 
collective life possible.

Insofar as ecology implies that the various levels of interaction 
between what is living and the environment be taken into consideration, 
it relies on an ethical mode which states that the individual is related 
to her/his milieu (either social, environmental or psychic) and thus 
finds himself committed to a certain behaviour and to specific values. 
His/her own singularity in the world is at stake.
S/he is challenged by the introduction of new arrangements between his 
intimate self and his social and collective existence. Ethics implies a 
relation to the world which commits you from your deepest intimacy to 
your most socialised existence.
The political managment of the ecological question implies a move from 
ethics to politics, the integration of ethics into politics, i.e. the 
intrusion of politics into our private life. What is the political 
imperative of ecology? Beware of how you behave; this could cause 
considerable damage to the global eco-system. Be responsible. Be aware 
of the possible consequences of your everyday gestures. But this is 
impossible, in spite of all your efforts and good intentions, you'll 
never be able to consider all the implications of your actions... So 
you'll have to let 'us' manage; we, the politicians, we'll control all 
your movements with the help of self-regulating devices indispensible 
for your collective security. This paradox is best expressed through the 
large diffusion of oxymorons bringing together two conflictual 
situations in a single element that upsets our ethical position: 
"industrial / ecology", "fair / trade", "ethical / investment", "clean / 
energy", etc.

The paradoxical consequence of this political handling of the ecological 
question is to remind each person of their responsability, asking 
her/him to self-regulate and keep every single one of her/his own 
movements under control, to picture him/herself at any time in a global 
vision of the world, of the global ecosystemic mesh, to respond 
adequately like a good "follower" of the lay religion of Ecology, and at 
the same time discharge her/him of any personal responsability, 
preventing her/him from deciding for her/himself by imposing a global 
management. From there on, politics will install all the proper 
conditions to regulate everything and welcome everybody, to manage the 
household economics, the global oikos6.

In this passage from ethics to politics, or rather in this integration 
of ethics into politics through ecology, technology is an esssential 
element. The collective management of individuals by politics is now 
carried out by security devices to control and regulate their 
behaviours, to avoid potentially harmful interactions, thus transforming 
the world into a gigantic "machine for living", an enormous evolving and 
adaptive structure that is forever adjusting to the latest parameters, 
detecting and correcting any deviance7, incorporating the new 
information that is likely to upset the ecosystem or divert the proper 
circulation of flows.

The world is now becoming unified through the technology of 
eco-political power, under the rule of logos, managed as a general 
economy of energy flows. We are witnessing the birth of an oecumenical 
policy, taking eco- as a shrine and eco-nomy and eco-logy as main cults 
and liturgies.

Internet, originally a polemological technology developed by the 
Pentagon, has become the most efficient medium of diffusion of this 
general integration, of this oecumenism; it now infiltrates all human 
activities, from the most intimate and private to the most public8. 
Thus, politics makes the use of technology an obligation, provoking the 
fear of ending on the wrong side of the "digital gap". Everyone has to 
be connected, or will fail to participate in the general information 
exchange, in the global economy of the eco-system.
Internet has become the state's most efficient way to regulate its 
system of control. It digitalizes us, the citizens of the eco-political 
world, it produces digits - digital encoding of life and the related 
processes.

Eco-politics, allied to technology, becomes a paradoxical religion, 
which, while seeming to address our sense of individual responsibility, 
tends to negate, through technology, any sort of moral
examination.

Self-regulating control through technology confronts us with anonymous 
devices which have already chosen for us, already decided what is good 
for us. We are confronted with locks, likely to open or close, to 
authorize or proscribe any action we may wish to undertake. For your 
sake, for everybody's safety, to keep the system going, we install 
locks9 in all the digital codes to stop you carrying out this or that 
specific action.
You will be technically (not morally, not legally) constrained to 
respect the law. Your only room for maneuver will rest on your 
possession (or not) of the code that gives you access to this or that 
possibility. The machine for living thus becomes a mechanics that 
defines your options in advance.
The integration of ethics into the political thus calls for the 
annihilation of ethics itself.
We will no longer be able to experience, to feel, awkward, ambiguous or 
conflictual situations, which confront us as ethical or moral beings. 
The securitarian rule is the negation of individual ethics, the negation 
of morals as that which allows destabilization, confronting you with 
heterogeneity. We are in the realm of equity and identification10. 
Figures (digits) have to be dealt with, balanced, compared, by 
constantly weighing and measuring, through statistics, opinion polls and 
marketing.

"Spare yourself" would be the new eco-political injunction: you can take 
risks, but be insured (insure your life, your car, your home, ...), 
"spare yourself" when you face new experiences, or the problems of life 
: moral dilemmas, hardship such as illness (physical or psychic), 
accidents, job loss, separation....
"Save yourself", save your money, your sperm, your data. To each 
economy, its own bank: Financial economy, life economy (sperm bank), 
memory and knowledge economy (data bank).

In this securitarian shift, eco-politics extends and incorporates 
biopolitics. Our relationship with the world is defined in the 
consumerist mode and public space becomes an extension of home. We live 
in the realm of the "cell". Man is no longer in God's image, but in the 
image of her/his eco-system : a living cell. And the world is now a 
gigantic organism, society a vast autopoietical process, subordinating 
production (poietics) to the law of reproduction, ruled by 
self-regulation and self-generation.

Challenged by the integrative dynamics of eco-power, of its increasing 
control over every aspect of our lives, of our existence in this world, 
the traditionnal modes and practices of political resistance are 
radically called into question.
Political resistance movements have so far believed they had found ways 
to topple established regimes by building alternative political models. 
But by doing so they had to adopt the point of view of those in power, 
to occupy the same position after their takeover, and to follow the 
logic they had previously scorned. Does resistance to domination mean 
resistance to a specific regime ? Or should it rather signify resistance 
to a logic, a logic of domination? This resistance should then oblige us 
to invent new dissenting political practices, by inventing a poietics 
which would shatter the mechanisms of the technology of power11.


Sophie Gosselin and David Guignebert


1) http://www.partenia.org/francais/archives_fr/archives_2007/n_0703fr.htm
2) For example:Vivendi with « Veolia environnement ».
3) Cf. the 2nd 'colloque de l?Appel de Paris' - 9 November 2006 - UNESCO 
(Paris). Organised by ARTAC in collaboration with HEAL and CHE : « 
Environnement et santé durable : une expertise internationale ».
4) Foucault, The Birth of Biopolitics lecture at the Collège de France 
in 1978-1979.
5) Coming out of the encounter of modern cybernetics and systemic 
theories, within the militaro-industrial complex in the United States, 
the arsenal of democracy during WWII
Cf. http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Approche_%C3%A9cosyst%C3%A9mique (in 
French)
Cf .http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Systems_science (in English)
6) "eco" comes from the Greek 'oïkos' meaning 'home'.
7) For example, detecting systematically the deviances of 3 year old 
children and opening files for them and their family.
8) Watching porno films on line, playing video games, buying an airline 
ticket, ordering a pizza, computer programming, signing on the Dole, 
diffusing music, getting involved in participatory politics on line...
9) For Example : DRM autorized in France by the DADVSI law (Droits 
d'auteur et droits voisins dans la société de l'information). Digital 
Rights Management technologies attempt to control or prevent access to 
or copying of digital media. Cf. 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_rights_management
10) Identification, i.e. the obligation of representation, social 
identity, and of eco-political, legal, administrative presentation : ID, 
Social Security number, insurance Number...


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