Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All
Tuesday, March 31, 2015
Monday, March 30, 2015
Saturday, March 28, 2015
Friday, March 27, 2015
Thursday, March 26, 2015
Wednesday, March 25, 2015
Tuesday, March 24, 2015
Monday, March 23, 2015
Sunday, March 22, 2015
Part of what is appealing in Obama's recent floating of this idea is that a campaign for mandatory voting functions rhetorically and organizationally as push-back against the conspicuous anti-democratizing movements of mass voter disenfranchisement (mostly, let's face it, by Republicans who are either white racists or who depend on white-racism to gain and maintain the power they deploy in the service of plutocracy) and the increasing corruption of elections by plutocratic money (by those representatives in both parties who are beholden more to corporate patronage than to the majorities they are elected to represent) but, crucially unlike many of the more familiar and longstanding critiques of and campaigns against these anti-democratizing forces, the mandatory voting proposal is for now unexpected and aggressive, not defensive and reactive, transforming and seemingly simplifying the terms of that struggle, mobilizing new constituencies and provisional alliances, and redirecting the momentum of a stalled debate in the face of urgent dangers.
The hysterical reactions across the reactionary punditosphere and hate-talk archipelago exposes the force of the proposal as much as anything could. That those who are most precarious are also usually the least inclined to participate in a political system that excludes and exploits them even though their shared interests and sheer numbers imply that they would represent a formidable organized political force and would be the greatest possible beneficiaries of change in the direction of equity-in-diversity suggests the radical potential of such a massive mobilization.
Needless to say, as the actually mixed results of this practice in the Australian example to which the President alludes, this proposal is not a panacea, it is not immune to corruption and nonsense -- as if any political process in America could manage that feat. Mandatory voting should be seen in my view as an opportunistic proposal arising in a particular historical juncture, the ultimate impact of which would depend on the education, agitation, organization, legislation that emerged out of its implementation. This is true of any political outcome: politics is interminable and unleashes forces the consequences of which cannot ever be known in advance.
I do not necessarily prefer mandatory voting as a proposal to others that have long been on offer -- election day as a national holiday, same-day registration, automatic registration via the IRS, SSA, DMV, Postal Service, Department of Education, and so on, extensive early voting options, voting-by-mail, nonpartisan commissions for drawing voting districts, instant runoff voting/candidate ranking, exclusive public-financing of all campaigns, limiting the calendar term for election advertizing, nationwide replacement of the electoral college with the popular vote (not to be confused with partisan efforts to make this substitution only in selective states to skew national election outcomes), repair and expansion of the Voting Rights Act, and so on. I do not think one has to choose between these proposals but rather we should embrace the unexpected controversy of the mandatory voting proposal to shift alliances and arguments in ways that might enable other proposals as well. I suspect that the energy attracted by a mandatory voting campaign would re-invigorate these other long-standing proposals and that its implementation would be one of the few forces to break through the impasse and inertia that has long bedeviled these ideas.
I happen not to agree with those who approve of this idea and then insist on the caveat that mandatory voting must always offer a "none of the above" option. I think one of the virtues of mandatory voting should be the inculcation of the insight that voting for a candidate can almost never amount to an endorsement of all that candidate's positions nor should the choice of a representative be understood as a facile identification with that representative. I would like to think that if no-one could evade voting, fewer would indulge the superficial celebritization of politics and more would grasp that representatives are always only the best on offer and must be held accountable by the ongoing vigilance and activism of the citizens who elect them for a time. All of this is to say that mandatory voting seems to me far from a fetishism of voting as the supreme or even an adequate form of political activity (a vision that almost inevitably amounts to an consumerist acquiescence to the status quo) but an occasion precisely for a de-fetishization of voting, a recognition that agitation pushing with or against elected representatives is indispensable to representative politics, and the realization from the universal performance of voting that just as real majorities are competent to vote as citizens so too real majorities are likely competent to run for and hold office as citizens as well.
Rooftops on new buildings built in commercial zones in France must either be partially covered in plants or solar panels, under a law approved on Thursday... The law approved by parliament was more limited in scope than initial calls by French environmental activists to make green roofs that cover the entire surface mandatory on all new buildings. The Socialist government convinced activists to limit the scope of the law to commercial buildings. The law was also made less onerous for businesses by requiring only part of the roof to be covered with plants, and giving them the choice of installing solar panels to generate electricity instead.I rather approve the way the green roof mandate allows rooftop solar as a "less onerous" alternative, but I wonder just how much the restriction to "commercial" buildings and zones will provide ways to evade the mandate with definitional and micro-rezoning shenanigans. That would surely be the way of it here in the US. Even so, I can scarcely imagine how beneficial such a mandate would be in continent-scaled US context, especially if the mandate extended to both new construction and remodeled rental residential, restaurants, retail space and agricultural plant.
Saturday, March 21, 2015
"Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months." -- Oscar Wilde
Thursday, March 19, 2015
"Bottom Up" political economy, to the contrary, must be grounded in the public investment for the provision of basic income, healthcare, education, and equal recourse to law and government which secure a legible scene of informed, nonduressed consent to the terms of everyday commerce as well as for the accountable administration of the commonwealth of public goods and common resources. When equity-in-diversity (of which sustainabillity is an indispensable part, since the costs and risks of unsustainable formations are always disproportionately borne by the marginalized and the poor) are secured via steeply progressive taxation and public investment -- via tax revenue, bond issues, countercyclical deficit spending, and so on -- a democratic bottom-up political economy of ramifying creative expressivity, civic participation, shared problem-solving, personal volunteerism, social services, organized labor, local entrepreneurship without fetishized mass consumption and plutocratic celebrities has a chance to emerge.
Only a bottom-up political economy is compatible with nonviolence (for those on the right who would howl about the "violence" of taxation, recall that all fortune is a collective accomplishment, that the progressive re-distribution of wealth by the state via taxation compensates a regressive pre-distribution of wealth by the state via legal/infrastructural affordances, and that from those to whom much is given much is rightly expected), and that only a system committed to nonviolence is compatible with democracy and universal law, even as interminable aspirational projects.
Contrary to PoliticalWire's coy headline, this is NOT "flirtation":
Next week, Mr. Kasich will ratchet up his presidential guessing game with visits to the first primary state, New Hampshire, on Tuesday and to Manhattan on Wednesday to mingle at a dinner with Republican donors. In April, he will address the Detroit Economic Club, which recently hosted Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida.Anybody who is not paying attention to Ohio is not paying attention.
Wednesday, March 18, 2015
Anyway, strangely enough, I was drawn to re-post this passage from the Moot when I read (on a tweeted tip from David Golumbia) Nathan Hensley's recent recounting of the crisis in the late nineties of the star-spangled English Department at Duke helmed by Stanley Fish. At the time, the influential hermeneutic and political (feminist, queer, postcolonial, etc.) critical approaches to the reading of literature emerging from the department were caught up in the theory wars symptomized by the stupid Sokal affair and accusations that theory represented hostility to literature or an effort to "master" literature (in which I always heard the still-lingering whine of earlier multicultural battles over the canon, a rage at the dislodging via capacious criticism of the hegemonic mastery of western literature).
Needless to say, this critique implies that political engagement with literature violates it, and acceptance of the critique paved the way for essentially a-political anti-political forms of description amounting at their worst to promotional literature. Now, a generation later, in the epoch of the neoliberal informercial academy in which the humanities are treated as a fossil in a field slated to become a parking lot, it is not hard to see that millennial clash among academics as precedent for current clashes of precarious indentured academics with robotic administrators and managers ready to burn the academy down for the insurance money. As Hensley nicely puts the point, the debate seemed to depend on a facile distinction between criticism and fetishism of literature, a denial that criticism of literature could be a thinking-otherwise than philosophizing arising out of aesthetic experience and expressing a kind of love for the texts it engages. Eve Sedgwick -- one of the stars of Duke and an enormously beloved and formative influence for me -- becomes the exemplary figure of such an understanding of criticism in Hensley's account.
I received my PhD. from the Rhetoric Department at Berkeley in 2005 after a decade of study there, and I experienced the episode recounted by Hensley as a partisan who felt very much under attack, and who warned about the connections between anti-critical attacks and neoliberal ambitions (there were, of course, many many folks who knew what was going on). In my program I learned to read texts logically, tropologically, and topically (that is to say, as texts constituted by entailments, figurations, and citations), texts offered up by and released into the hearing of struggling situated subjects. This was a mode of reading that was deeply influenced by hermeneutics and was readily politicized in ways then under attack at Duke (and it felt like everywhere else), and for me at any rate it was connected to a teaching of critical theory in which I am still engaged to this day, critical theory as a post-philosophical discourse inaugurated by the anti-fetishistic critiques of Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud (commodity, ressentimentality, sexuality) and culminating in Spivak's planetarity (also, from 1999). Since so many of these strands comport with Hensley's it is no surprise his piece resonated for me. I realize that after all this preamble the actual snippet from the Moot will inevitably seem a bit anti-climactic, but at its heart is rhetoric as a mode of critical/political reading that is an expression of love for the text -- that in discerning an event as a text is already to be caught up in a responsiveness/responsibility between subjects mediated by the text that is a form that love takes -- and that expresses that deeper love to which my whole practice is dedicated (and after which this blog, originating in my last years in the program at Rhetoric), a love of the world/love of public worldliness, Arendtian amor mundi.
As someone trained in rhetoric, who teaches rhetoric, who is actually -- weird as this may sound -- devoted to rhetoric as a critical practice, it is very commonplace for me to see arguments as pitched in occasions that resonate in them after they have passed, as citing frames and conceits that render them apparently plausible and truly forceful, as dependent on figures that feel transparent or evidentiary when they strictly speaking are not, that indulge formal fallacies that bedevil them even while making them persuasive, and so on.
When one exposes a logical entailment, a topical citation, a pesky metaphorization one is rarely accusing its author of hypocrisy or laziness or stupidity or anything like that. One is trying to understand how an argument generates its persuasive force the better to understand the hopes and history out of which it emerged and to which it responds. No argument escapes such stratifications, they are far better understood as the way into an argument than as an excuse to dismiss it. They are my chief point of connection with the author as a fellow sufferer in struggling to make sense of the world and overcome its terrible demands. In arriving at my critique of anarchism both left and right I have actually found the resources with which to understand democratization in a more mature way, and also to recognize the work of democratization in the best anarchists in their best moments.
If I had a dime for every time a person told me I use rhetoric to "play games" when I pointed out logical, topical, tropological connections that an interlocutor found inconvenient I could pay off my student loans.
Tuesday, March 17, 2015
You can't get at anything good and important about democracy, rights, public goods, equity-in-diversity by only mentioning anarchism.
Monday, March 16, 2015
[T]he wrong question is to ask what CIA and State and so on are doing to “mess” with the Tor Project. The right question is to ask: how does the development of Tor, and in a parallel fashion the promotion of “internet freedom,” align with the interests of CIA, the State Department, USAID, and so on? This is a question that it is very hard for cyberlibertarians even to put to themselves. They are so convinced of the righteousness of “internet freedom” and of Tor, so sure of its purpose and its politics that many of them appear not even to be able to bear to ask whether these beliefs might be fallacious. That “internet freedom,” a slogan without a clear referent, might be a policy the US promotes for specific geostrategic reasons, in part because so many people hop on board without understanding that the “internet freedom” agenda is not what it sounds like. That Tor serves some very specific US interests... [T]here is plenty of evidence of design flaws per se in the Tor network: they are found all the time, often by the Tor developers themselves. How did they get there? Who knows. But that is one reason why “is it compromised” is such a misguided question: we know Tor is compromised or has been compromised at times, and undoubtedly will be again. We don’t know who is responsible for its vulnerabilities: often they emerge from parts of the system nobody appears to have thought about... But these are questions about which we can’t do much more than speculate. They are outweighed in importance by the central question about the ideology behind Tor. If you are asking how government funding compromises Tor and “internet freedom,” you are asking the wrong question. The right question is: how do Tor and “internet freedom” serve the interests of those who fund them so generously? ... The critique we need to consider is not merely that major powers are “paying lip service” to the idea of internet freedom; it is that the idea itself is bankrupt: it is a propagandistic slogan in search of a meaning, a set of meaningful-sounding (but meaningless) words, like “right to work[.]”
Americans have been waiting for the federal government to come to a decision over the Keystone XL pipeline for more than six years, enduring countless protests, Congressional hearings and even a Presidential veto over the controversial project. But during that time, pipeline construction in the U.S. hasn’t slowed -- in fact, it’s surged. The U.S. has added 11,600 miles of oil pipeline in the last decade, increasing its network of pipelines shipping oil through the country by almost a quarter.
Sunday, March 15, 2015
Saturday, March 14, 2015
There are many variations of this nonsense: say, you plan to keep accumulating "upgrading" attachments, or you expect to be genetically rewoven or nanobotically refurbished, or you plan to scoop your "brain-self" into an imperishable sooper-body or you expect to "migrate" or "upload" some digital scan or profile you treat as your "info-self" into an imperishable cyberspatial paradise.
In every variation, the dream depends on the mastery of techniques that neither exist nor are even remotely on offer. Typically, these are treated as inevitable eventualities nonetheless because they do not obviously clash logically (apart from the, you know, not existing at all part) with what we presently know about the relevant biology, brain science, computer science, robotics. Even though we do know that in each of the fields we do not know quite a lot of what we would need to know to get any closer to such aspirational techniques their aspirants just assume this logical possibility will remain even though there isn't really any good reason to think that what we would come to know that we must know will still be logically compatible with these daydreams when it comes to it. And of course all this sets aside such pesky realizations that we might destroy ourselves or incapacitate ourselves before we accomplished these outcomes even if they were logically possible in some remote logical sense, or we might decide to focus on different outcomes because of their expense, more urgent priorities, shifting values, historical complications, any number of things.
Absolutely we do know that we cannot now do what the techno-transcendentalists dream of doing, and absolutely we do know that the scientific state of the art provides few to no reasons to think we will plausibly master these techno-transcendental techniques any time soon enough, if ever, to justify dwelling on them in the face of other urgent problems.
Confronted with this rather discouraging state of affairs, I have noticed a robocultic recurrence to reductionist scenario-spinning ot thought-experiments: Since biological organisms are material systems aren't we already robots after all? How do we actually know we are not already living in a virtual reality and not the real world after all?
Setting aside the fact that most people don't spend a lot of time seriously worrying that they are brains in a vat or dreaming when they think they are awake for the pretty good reason that getting on with life seems to be premised on thinking otherwise -- strictly speaking, of course, if the lives we are now living are a matter of exploring a virtual reality program then that provides no reason to believe we could run an equally immersive and better let alone immortalizing virtuality on that virtuality, nor would this provide any reason to believe that who we have meant by who we are could continue what we have have meant by living otherwise than on that virtuality which is what we have meant by reality.
And setting aside the fact that there isn't much call for describing people as robots outside of futurological sub(cult)ures for the pretty good reason that actual people aren't like actual robots in the world in ways that matter to most people -- strictly speaking, of course, even if we do say that biological beings are a kind of robot after all that doesn't means that every kind of robot can do what every other robot can do, and just as both red apples and red wagons are red and yet few would confuse them, so too biological people robots and robots on automobile assembly lines and sentient humanoid robots in science fiction may all be robots and yet few would confuse them.
The whole point of this exercise on the part of the techno-transcendentalist is to get people to entertain as interesting and logically possible in the world here and now an outcome they pine for (we can become robots, we can live in virtualities) that cannot otherwise be made to seem reasonably plausible or even relevant in a world of actual problems demanding address. Even if we are robots in some since we are not robots of the kind Robot Cultists want to be, even if we are living in a simulation we are not living in a simulation of the kind Robots Cultists, equivocating on the differences they hope to invest their wish-fulfillment fantasies with a reality effect they cannot otherwise muster. It is a form of begging the question, enabled by the larger imposture of futurological scenario-spinning mistaken for scientific hypotheses or policy proposals.
Friday, March 13, 2015
Thursday, March 12, 2015
Wednesday, March 11, 2015
It has gotten so bad that at least one "professional futurist" -- Jamais Cascio -- is now declaring that the value of futurism is in what it gets "usefully wrong." At this point Cascio has poked so many holes exposing the fraud of conventional futurism (many of which I quite agree with) he really risks exposing the fraud of his own ongoing demand for attention and paychecks as a professional futurist himself.
Of course it is true that we do learn from mistakes -- think how earnestly Popper took Wilde's quip that "Experience is the name we give our mistakes" -- but can you imagine any other legitimate empirical discipline demanding to be taken seriously by concerned citizens and policy makers that would claim its models are all wrong in "interesting" ways? Setting aside the fact that few futurists would admit that they are wrong about everything as Cascio does (or at any rate would be consistent about such an admission), why should we care about the way futurists of all people get things wrong than the ways actual scientists and scholars, say, get things wrong -- especially when at least they aspire and occasionally manage to get things right?
That is to say, Cascio does not seem to be making the useful pragmatic point that all true propositions are never more than the best but still falsifiable propositions on offer for warranted reasons. I would sympathize with such a point, but it would simply change our expectations about the force and security of models and methods that get things right by our lights. Such a recognition would hardly provide grounds to distinguish futurism as a legitimate discipline from other legitimate disciplines. Like Cascio I do also make such a distinction, of course, but for me it is the distinction of con-artistry from policy-making (I leave to the side futurology's occasional inept forays into cultural criticism or -- Angels and ministers of grace defend us! -- philosophy).
To elaborate my point a bit more: No doubt all disciplines along the road to getting things as right as they can for now do also get things wrong in ways the study of which is interesting and useful, but it is the effort to get things right that earns their keep and provides the context in which usefully to assess the ways they err. Every legitimate discipline has a foresight dimension: one solicits agreements from potential collaborators, one insists on accounting for certain expectations, one makes provisional plans in light of one's understanding of the relevant forces and stakeholders at hand on the basis of the warranted descriptions provided by disciplines devoted to understanding them.
The problem is that futurism, futurology, future studies, or what have you, seeks legitimacy as a professional and scholarly discipline while every single method and model and analytic mode it deploys in the service of this goal originates in and is deployed by other social sciences and humanities scholars in an incomparably more rigorous and accountable way. Few futurists have degrees in these legitimate disciplines or could pass muster within their ranks. Futurists proceed instead by pretending their superficial appropriations are an interdisciplinarity when they amount in fact to an anti-disciplinarity.
As for the "methods" that are more characteristic of futurists in particular, few stand up to sustained scrutiny. Not to put too fine a point on it: "The Future" futurists pretend to study does not exist, the openness inhering in diversity of stakeholders to the present is -- if anything -- foreclosed by the parochial projections futurists denominate "The Future." (Futurology's characteristic extrapolations from the necessarily partially imperfectly understood present onto radically contingent developmental dynamisms are just an obvious instance.) The "trends" futurists pretend to discern do not exist -- if anything these are narrative constructions imposed retroactively on contingent vicissitudes to conjure an apparent momentum that can be opportunistically exploited by incumbents for profits. The futurological trend-spotter and the fashion trend-spotter are revealed to be perfectly continuous, then: deceptive hype profitably peddled as objective discovery. The "technology" futurists pretend to be their focus does not exist, the constellation of historical, existing, imagined techniques and artifacts only some of which are corralled together under the heading of "technology" do not in fact share any one characteristic or capacity or developmental trajectory, and their costs, risks, and benefits will also be different to the diversity of their stakeholders -- if anything the futurological pretense that the technological names a dimension of historical change different or separate from social, cultural, or political struggles is a focus that performs an insistent obfuscation of the reality at hand.
The conspicuous embrace of brainstorming and free association by some futurists takes up exercises from acting improvisation workshops which do indeed seem to me to be useful for inculcating habits of creative and flexible thinking for students -- but this is hardly a critical or testable method on its own, and its connection in futurism to corporate workshop cultures of compulsory managerial optimism and self-esteem promotion for bored plutocratic functionaries is hard to miss. So too the frankly ludicrous penchant among futurists for the endless promotion of neologisms might indeed seem to connect to occasionally useful rhetorical and philosophical proposals of novel and useful distinctions to relieve intractable conceptual impasses -- but this practice is hardly the end in itself it seems in futurological circles forever buzzing with buzzwords, and its connection in futurism to corporate advertizing practices of repackaging stale goods as breathless novelties is, again, hard to miss.
In this, the professional patina of futurologists tracks closely the antics of so much contemporary pop-tech journalism, which indulges in technoscientifically illiterate hyperbole about technology That! Will! Change! Everything! and advertorial promotion of the latest crappy consumer goods and schlocky hagiography for clueless bazillionaire celebrity tech CEOs eager to be told they are the Protagonists of History. The common denominator here is the production of facile and falsifying discourse about technoscientific change paid for by plutocrats who are either flattered or profit by it. That many so-called "tech writers" indulge in this reactionary pseudo-science while congratulating themselves as champions of democracy (as vacuous "openness," predatory "sharing," indifferent "participation," and so on) and science (as unspecified "innovation," anti-democratic "technocracy," and unaccountable "design," and so on) just adds insult to injury. More of the same... but as "The Future"!
As I have said many times, futurology is the quintessential discourse of neoliberalism: a set of essentially promotional promises and rationalizations for plutocracy offered up in the form of science-like predictions. These forms suffuse global corporate-military developmental discourse, across think-tanks and corporatized academic departments and official media outlets, but also the promises of scientistic and techno-fetishistic advertizing imagery, and also the norms and forms of competitive individualism and self-help and relentless "positivity." As I wrote in Futurological Discourses and Posthuman Terrains:
Futurology is caught up in and constitutive of the logic of techno-fixated market futures, while futurisms are technoscience fandoms and sub(cult)ures materializing imagined futures in the fervency of shared belief. Successful mainstream futurology amplifies irrational consumption through marketing hyperbole and makes profitable short term predictions for the benefit of investors, the only finally reliable source for which is insider information. Successful superlative futurism [exemplary versions of which include transhumanism, singularitarianism, techno-immortalism, digital-utopianism, nano-cornucopianism which I often lampoon here and elsewhere] amplifies irrational terror of finitude and mortality through the conjuration of a techno-transcendent vision of The Future peddled as long-term predictions the faithful in which provide unearned attention and money for the benefit of gurus and pseudo-experts, the source for which is science fiction mistaken for science practice and science policy. Something suspiciously akin to fraud would appear to be the common denominator of futurology in both its mainstream and superlative modes. [Emphasis added --d] As against the dreary dream-engineering ad-men of mainstream futurology the adherents of superlative futurism are indulging in outright, and often organized, faith-based initiatives. More than consumers eating up the usual pastry-puff progress, they are infantile wish-fulfillment fantasists who fancy that they will quite literally arrive at a personally techno-transcendentalizing destination denominated The Future.Although I am stressing the difference between extreme techno-transcendental subcultures of futurism and the more prevalent corporate-militarism of everyday advertizing and elite think-tank discourse, I think it is also right to discern a deranging transcendentalizing denialist aspiration suffusing neoliberal marketing imagery and neoliberal rationalizations for forced global development. One finds in both the same disdain for the aging vulnerable error-prone body of the privileged target of consumer advertizing and the precarious target of violent exploitation alike, certainly.
Of course, yet another way to look at futurism is to regard it is a rather inept genre of science fiction literature, in which plots, themes, characterizations, are all sacrificed for endless scene-setting descriptions (yes, scenery, and hence, the definitive futurological scenario which, even when -- especially when? -- it is offered up as "multiple menu options" is inevitably reductive, mostly distortive, and usually amounts to special pleading on behalf of sponsors) in which hackneyed conceits from the Gernsbackian Golden Age play out (AI, genetic supermen, immortality medicine, cheap gizmo-abundance, reality as a simulation, I'm sorry to say) which are then peddled as if they were Very Serious philosophical thought-experiments or even scientific hypotheses. Speculative fiction has stunningly rich antecedents and ramifying branches, of course, but there is something to be said for the suggestion that futurology and "hard" science fiction as these are currently construed are co-constitutive imaginaries originating in the work of H.G. Wells. I daresay the rampant mistreatment of literary science fiction by the corporate-military mindset as an exploitable prophetic glimpse of the future market/battlefield rather than a critical/figurative engagement with the present (as all literature actually is, very much including sf) was a factor in the emergence as much as a result of popular futurology as the saddest, most impoverished literary genre of all time.
Tuesday, March 10, 2015
1 The scene of informed, nonduressed consent is maintained by public investment in health, education, rights without which it is vacuous.— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) March 10, 2015
2. Right anti-tax politics defund the scene of consent and then right plutocratic politics exploit its eclipse...— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) March 10, 2015
3. ...to indulge in predatory policing as an alternate revenue stream, rationalized by mobiliizing available right racist/sexist politics.— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) March 10, 2015
4. Right-wing state-shrinkage is coupled with right-wing state-amplification. This isn't contradictory, the common denominator is predation.— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) March 10, 2015
Monday, March 09, 2015
Sunday, March 08, 2015
So I tweeted a moment ago, another variation on a theme to which I have recurred so often for years now. But this time writing it I had an unaccustomed twinge: I still mean what I say, but of course "openness" has been buzzword buzzsawed into the usual vacuity by techbro meme hustlers by now -- open is empty more often than not in the mouths of the open source open access open society openness brigand brigade -- and so I find I am less comfortable with my long-favored phrase "open futurity" than I once was.
I could take up another phrase, do my own meme-hustling number, try my hand at Luntzian-Lakoffian "re-framing," cough up a neologistic hairball to take personal credit for -- like "over-futurity," say. It has a nice Nietzschean coloration: the re-opening that resisted the reactionary foreclosures of "The Future" re-figured now as over-comings, tapping into the useful but also fashionable academic dance-number of "the future anterior" that builds the next out of the shared resourcefulness of the here and now. Over-futurity, too, nicely evokes the eyeroll of being "over" neoliberal futurological hype, as truly I am.
But over is just a hop skip and a jump from uber, after all, and the meme-hustlers have already grazed and pooped all over that figurative field. Of course, there is no word-magic that can make our arguments for us: a world suffused with marketing deceptions and re-packagings chews up every word and spits it out, leaving it a poorer thing with ugly associations in tow. I guess I'll stick to open futurity against retro-futurism for the time being.
Welcome to New Readers Interested in the Racism and Sexism of Transhumanist Movements (UPDATED: Now With More Anarchy!)
UPDATE: The Moot has unexpectedly but interestingly centered its comments on some claims I made about left anarchism in one of the links posted above. In honor of this surprising and delightful outcome I append, for context, a twitter left-anarchy mini-treatise I posted when I realized what was afoot:
1 Since my criticism of anarchism is attracting some attention & surprises some who know I advocate direct action &democratization politics:— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) March 12, 2015
2 I say anarchism when treating state-formations as *essentially* or *exhaustively* violent disavows violence inhering in plurality as such.— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) March 12, 2015
3 This matters bc I fear anarchist reduction of state to violence can disable public investment in welfare/rights on which consent depends.— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) March 12, 2015
4 I agree of course with anarchist (and other) repudiations of state violence, but want to democratize not smash states in consequence.— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) March 12, 2015
5 To see states as always-only violent undermines attributions of responsibility for violence&limits range of reforms for accountable norms.— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) March 12, 2015
6 This can disorganize & demoralize redress of real grievances, and often amounts to acquiescence to status quo in the name of resisting it.— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) March 12, 2015
7 Across the spectrum anarchisms exhibit faith in spontaneisms: love will conquer all, markets will trump disputes, consensus is achievable.— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) March 12, 2015
8 These spontaneisms naturalize/depoliticize contentious assumptions about what love, markets, consent, agreement actually substantially is.— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) March 12, 2015
9 Spontaneism as anti-politics functions as a reactionary kernel in many anarchisms: obviously anarchomarket pieties but left anarchisms too— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) March 12, 2015
10 I find much left anarcho-critique of state violence&social injustice compelling and often ally with anarchists on the ground, in art, etc— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) March 12, 2015
11 My dispute is pitched theoretically (how we make sense of) and rhetorically (how we argue for) shared aspiration for equity-in-diversity.— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) March 12, 2015
12 I mean no disrespect when I translate as democratization what anarchists may prefer to think of as state-smashing, it clarifies affinity.— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) March 12, 2015
And folks accuse I can't be concise. Mm-hm.
Saturday, March 07, 2015
Friday, March 06, 2015
Thursday, March 05, 2015
Setting aside those who simply indulge in uncritical celebrations over the wholesomeness or inevitability of these techno-triumphalist narratives, what I find striking is that many who would otherwise engage in useful resistance to these developments by organizing labor or critically interrogating plutocratically-biased rationalizations are instead wringing their hands over phantoms of robocalypse that amount to an acquiescence no less reactionary in effect than the antics of the most facile celebrants. Again and again and again I insist: find the responsible humans who are coding and designing and funding and deploying techniques to accomplish violent or exploitative outcomes. Technology mediates and facilitates political relations among humans. Do not comply uncritically in the displacement of culpability from responsible actors onto "technological protagonists." There is no such thing as artificial intelligence or agentic robots, and pretending otherwise always deranges one's sense of human responsibilities. Always. Every time.