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Re: <nettime> Capitalism is FINISHED -- As a Result of the Internet!
marc Lafia on Fri, 18 May 2012 14:13:49 +0200 (CEST)


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Re: <nettime> Capitalism is FINISHED -- As a Result of the Internet!


Hi Brian

Greetings Nettimers.

Much of the conversation you bring up Brian and in many other very engaging
threads point to our contemporary condition of individuals without, or in
search of society, yet all of us never-the-less insist and herald our
individuality which I suggest could be argued the perfect checkmate of why
many of these conversations go round and round not just here, but in the
larger society.


I would like to argue for a moment that our insistence on being individuals
is our refusal of universalism and this refusal marks the moment we live
in.



With the enlightenment and the French revolution a new consideration of the
relations of man was put forward, it was the idea that reason and science
would produce a new order of men, not based on titles, nor wealth, or
lineage, not religion, but on reason and science. There would be liberty,
fraternity and equality not for all, yet, but as a lever to contest power.
Over the next centuries the enormous energies of these new ideas and with
them the emergence of new technologies dismantled the old hierarchies,
creating new wealth, new business, new nation states and a very new sense
of the individual and the public.



With industrialization this larger public had moved away from the land and
was now a wage earner living in cities vying for rights and power. Seen
from one vantage they were a rabble to be feared and contained, from
another a mass to be inspired to fight wars and to build a new industrial
society. Through scientific management, through the study of nature and
machines this new man would be organized and managed.



In the last century the idea of managing the public has become increasingly
fine tuned and in a radically new turn the public would now be done away
with and in its place we now have individuals.



If the twentieth century put an end to the idea of collective society, the
idea that scientific management and social engineering could produce a new
man, a new civil order, a society owned by all, the 21st century promised
we would flourish in our differences, each with our own taste. Products and
solutions would be customized for our unique needs. In satisfying our own
needs we would create a public. A society of individuals. The new
calculations of accommodating difference would do away with the nightmares
and exclusions that had produced mass society, nations states and ethnic
conflicts. It would be an end to the tyranny of unified culture, an end to
totalitarianisms. We would now be free atoms, distinct and discreet nodes
in a network.



Individuals would now have no sense of what society they were part of, if
any.



In their 2000 bestseller *Empire, *Michael Hardt and Toni Negri announced a
new international condition no longer built on the imperialist model of the
super powers of old but on the new condition of globalization.  This new
and emerging networked world held with it the opportunity for a politic to
bring forward a 21st century of interconnectedness, openness and a shared
sense of planetary responsibility.

What we've discovered since is that the new empire still plays by the games
of the old empires: of nation states, of divisiveness, of scarcity, of
might, control and fear while we have never had such enormous abundance and
innovation.


It is this paradox in a recent work, which a number of you on this list
have taken part,  *Empires* -- a documentary film and online project, --
sets out to unravel. The title works on multiple levels. It says that the
nationalist empires are back. It also suggests that the empires of law,
money, science, speed, nation states, and food are, in fact, complex
networks that are inter-related and interdependent.



It is said that you know there is a network when you're excluded from it.

 To be included is to have a voice, to participate, to have agency. These
things drive the histories of political and philosophical thought. They are
not abstract concepts but the very real struggles of networked relations,
of powers, peoples, flows of energies and technologies.



How these networks work and how they interact is what *Empires* sets out to
explicate.



We?ve sat down with an extraordinary group (see below) and I invite any of
you interested to contact me to be part of this.



What we?ve heard is that our managerial and government elites are
dysfunctional and that the new order of things is everyman for himself,
that things find their own order, from the ground up. Our desires are
expressed in our purchasing power. Money is how we vote and the market will
continually adjust to accommodate the desires we express. We can all be
winners using the network effects to scale up to success, a success each of
us has agency to produce. There are no larger structures to trump agency.
If you *can* make it you *will* make it.



In this ethos of the elevation of our uniqueness, to the exclusion of our
commonalities we have become blind to any possible collective power. We
now, in the West, are a society of individuals in search of society.



With reluctance today to accept such universalisms as global citizenship,
rights to a living wage, to mobility, to social ownership of information
channels and planetary resources, we are left with a notion that society,
like nature, will be chaotic and disruptive, and that through this new
?natural law? of volatility, of self organization, a new politics will
emerge and find its shape.


/marc lafia

*The list includes Manuel Delanda, Saskia Sassen, Florian Cramer, Natalie
Jeremijenko, Kazys Varnelis, Geert Lovink, Alex Galloway, Michael Hardt,
Anthony Pagden, Cathy Davidson, Greg Lindsay, Nishant Shah, James
Delbourgo, Jon Protevi, Wendy Hui Kyong Chun, Paul D. Miller and Douglas
Rushkoff.

On Thu, May 17, 2012 at 2:04 PM, Brian Holmes
<bhcontinentaldrift {AT} gmail.com>wrote:

> On 05/17/2012 12:28 AM, Keith Hart wrote:
>
> > I would add that each individual or group inserts themsleves
> > into the social and technical movement at a particular point in
> > time with a bundle of assets and drawbacks in terms of skills,
> > experience, online history and offline engagements. It is how
> > these are combined and the character of our ongoing engaement with
> > the medium that makes different aspects of digital social life
> > distinctive for each of us.
>
> Ha ha! Well said. And this is also where you really have to open your
> eyes and ears if you want to do social theory.
 <...>


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