John Hopkins on Thu, 24 Jul 2014 15:13:35 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> automated digest [x2: griffis, gurstein]

Very, very prescient of McLuhan but his otherwise extremely
insightful analysis missed one element--the political economic
context into which these technology induced changes would be
introduced and which would both influence and be influenced by.

Michael a few comments/observations/musings -- I wouldn't use
the term 'induced' -- in our context, as we are still very much
immersed/part of the post-WWII military-industrial-academic complex,
the political-economic dimensions (changes) are not being altered by
induction, the entire structure of that MIA-complex is what the power
relations are constructed on/from to begin with.

[Induction is a concept about energy-transfer precipitating 'at a
distance' between two otherwise disconnected systems.]

Of course those power relations do evolve, and the MIA complex is
not the only actor, given the power shifts of globalization. (Do we
include the Army of the People's Republic of China and the entire
mining/manufacturing/feeding regime that is integral to it as part of
it? SURE!)

The gist of the conversation here has isolated the 'digital' & IT
from the larger context of power structures and relations that it
is still completely embedded within. To make an IT device requires
machines, big machines, machines in the Industrial Revolution sense,
and it requires numerous layers of those -- ever driven a 250-ton
dump truck operating in a gold mine; ever bucked 10-inch pipe on
a rotary-drilling platform on an oil rig? All these machines (and
their operators) are part of a political/economic power structure
that undergirds/immerses this IT sector (and it's expression of
political/economics) that we speak about here in the isolated
abstract. To ignore the political economics of ALL that wider system
is to have a very unbalanced analysis of the overall set of human
power relations (politics!) that drive our global techno-social

What you call a 'new stage' is only a slight quantitative alteration
in the relation between power expression and the feedback
(surveillance, data gathering, data mining) that is/has been necessary
to control the willing/unwilling participants in the system.

It is clear that as feedback increases asymptotically that the system
experiences a form of internal sclerosis (Vaclav Havel wrote about
this in "The Power of the Powerless" in 1985, and the East German
'Stasi' state is a good example). Sclerosis usually ends with the
death of the organism.

IMHO, none of the power relations in this techno-social system have
anything to do with democracy. And especially these days, it is
no wonder that there would be an "existential crisis, for Western
democracies and their camp followers." Unfortunately I think that this
crisis arises out of a general ignorance of the 'real' power relations
that, again, arise from the fundamental structures of the MIA and that
all our relations (even here on 'nettime') are predicated on.


Dr. John Hopkins, BSc, MFA, PhD
grounded on a granite batholith
twitter: @neoscenes

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