Cladistic Postmodernity

A posthuman future of markets in everything, artificial intelligence and a dividualisation of the subject augurs itself as the gears of machinic evolution grind. “These new logistical and organisational possibilities produce new ontologies for conceptualising and abstracting information and using it to delineate spaces of action. ‘For the individual agent and complex system alike, this is the continual re-assessment of reality following the (vital) trauma of ontological crisis’. These new ontologies further dividuate the circumstances of being and identity, and produce posthuman forms that compete in increasingly level playing fields for political viability and social recognition”[1]. In combination with crises like the coronavirus pandemic and the auspices of climate change, a future that blurs the line between human and posthuman emerges.

In Orlov’s anti-Gaia hypothesis, the technosphere is conceptualised as intelligent series of non-homeostatic feedback loops that augur greater growth at any cost. Its treatment of organic life can be seen in factory farms, corporations’ quantification of human labour as a means to an end, and the emergence of abstract priorities, of “universal conquest”[2] through space exploration or logistical control. “Human beings too are now exchangeable pieces. A forester ‘is today positioned by the lumber industry. Whether he knows it or not, he is in his own way a piece of inventory in the cellulose stock’ delivered to newspapers and magazines”[3]. This industrial collectivity has given rise to the primacy of human capital with its emphasis upon constant adaptation in the face of planned and unplanned adversities. With the coronavirus pandemic, the capacity to adapt in the face of a semi-deadly virus has meant a regression to digitised lives and atomistic isolation. Human capital here (“reskilling”, workers as assets, “value generation”[4]) is little more than a metaphor for a meta-organisational paradigm of which labour is one cog.

Political structures intensify these posthuman arrays as society becomes massified and urbanised. “They make cosmic and metaphysical values out of their needs”[5], as seen in the demographic trends of greater ethnic and cultural homogeneity as globalised relations favour transnational class interests and a cosmopolitan culture stacked alongside a multicultural hotchpotch of megacities and migration flows (to be exacerbated by the heat death of climate change and the hypertrophy of non-urban livelihoods). White hinterlands developing in exurbs, rural areas and small cities[6] are one symptom of this, as white families try to find a sense of national community outside city networks. However this is a temporary shift as the children of these families increasingly live within diverse city districts, increasing the levels of community distrust in highly diverse areas as different ethnic and cultural groupings mix and segregate in various ways. Higher rates of interracial coupling testify to this. “In 2001, there were only around 2,500 Bangladeshis and Pakistanis living in a Bangladeshi-Pakistani couple out of the groups’ combined population of more than 1 million. This despite the fact that both are Muslim South Asian ethnic groups living in urban areas of Britain. Antagonism, group location and customs limited intermarriage. These groups were more likely to marry White British than each other”, but even then at low rates. The interracial coupling figures for black-white and white-Hispanic are comparably higher in Western countries[7]. A future of racial intermixing and non-white majorities in Western countries awaits, naturally changing the power structures of these societies.

On one side this could see the emergence of an ethno-traditional society that combines white-majority frameworks surrounding culture with mixed-race communities, moving from white majorities to inter-ethnic tribalism, a kind of mulatto nationalism. The slightly increased rates of voting for Trump in black and Hispanic communities testifies to this as do the immigration opinion polling amongst ethnic minorities in Britain. While there is no racial element, there is a shared feeling of nationality. On the reverse side, the emergence of a bioleninist power structure can be seen. A paradoxical call for greater racial recognition of minority rights is parsed through an intersectional matrix of competing demands, producing an inverted pyramid of minority conscience undergirded by an anarcho-tyrannical concept of justice, where racial minorities are consistently oppressed and are not responsible for their actions. Justice here is the implementation of this inverted pyramid in the realms of law and politics, where demands are filtered so that those of the oppressed come above those related to class or economic concerns. Racial struggle sessions, an HR-led system of judgment, and one rule for some but not for others[8].

Both these posthuman and post-racial arrays are vectors for homogenisation and globality. A population of human capital or consumer denizens is much more controllable than tight-knit communities and small-scale variations in socio-economic actions. However it is much more fragile, as the instantiations of the 2008 financial crisis and the coronavirus pandemic attest. A naïve globalisation “creates interlocking fragility, while reducing volatility and giving the appearance of stability. In other words it creates devastating Black Swans. We have never lived before under the threat of a global collapse”[9]. The centrality of gargantuan financial institutions and platform systems creates strong systemic risk[10], particularly as the latter contain the elements through which they can be undermined as well as undergirded[11]. Greater ethnic homogeneity presents greater vectors for viral load and reduced immunological differences.

“Homogenization is entropy. The two concepts are not strictly distinguishable. What was discovered under the name of entropy was the destruction of difference”[12]. This is where ideas of greater globality and integration become problematic if not outright stupid. The WEF’s Great Reset is paradigmatic in the way transnational class interests combine with technophilic nightmares and egalitarian sentiments to produce a Deleuzian array of control. It produces an “ontological inequality” between “those who adapt from those who resist”[13], limiting the potentials to voice opposition or exit a system premised around the valuation and control of everyday life. And, similarly to Taleb’s criticism of naïve globalisation, a Great Reset of global governance potentiates worldwide collapse scenarios. “Overall progress has continued despite the rise and fall of nations, and the incompetence and short sighted greed of politicians, because for more than two thousand years there has always been a safe haven, somewhere in the world for people of learning to flee the violence and barbarism of failed states and tyrants”[14]. In other words, systems of exit from entropic, ossified structures.

If traditional ways of life and heterogeneous cultures and ethnicities are to, if not reassert dominance, maintain a voice and a space within these growing arrays of control, homogenisation and utilitarian valuation, a cladistic future may be required that asserts spaces or pockets of de-massified control. “Cladistics can be identified with a rigorization of taxonomic nomenclature. A system of names writes a cladogram, which is to say a model of evolutionary history, and of biological relatedness. Any cladogram is an evolutionary hypothesis. It proposes a particular order of splitting. Any such proposed order is empirically revisable. Cladistics maps the whole of disintegrationism below the cosmological level, and perhaps even up to it. Naturally, it is supremely controversial. The full scope of its provocation has yet to be understood. Insofar as cladistics is explanatory, however, much follows. Notably, identity is conceived as essentially schismatic, and being is apprehended fundamentally as a structure of inheritance”[15].

A further schismatic deconstruction of prevailing control systems, of posthuman and meta-organisational value structures, is required. At the level of being, this can be conceptualised as the emergence of a linguistics of non-technology. This is not the overcoming or subsumption of technology, but a system of language and reasoning that isn’t reliant on technological relays. The assertion of moods, of theological interactions, of mortality and the innately human over techno-industrial or scientific reasonings. At the level of social systems, the consolidation of small, integrated, self-reliant communities along the lines of Taleb’s fractal localism or a Misesian[16] decentralism[17]. Religious communities have already engaged in this cladistic splintering, bucking the demographic trends of their secular counterparts (Orthodox Jews, the Amish and the Mormons). Outside of this, preppers and militias present another factor, as the rich are buying up remote properties and procuring specialist security and medical services[18]. Reducing social networks down to a sustainable Dunbar number, as well as moving them offline would also help in reducing the influence of technospheric control.

The coming crises and collapses are already being seen. The coronavirus pandemic and associated recession; the unsustainable private and public debt levels; the systemically situated monopolies and platforms; ocean and soil acidification; climate change-led desertification; racial discord and urban violence; technocratic control arrays and lockdowns; as well as other potential events, necessitate a cladistic decentralisation and a linguistics of non-technology that preserve the space for human sociality. This isn’t a bright or optimistic future, but it may be a survivable one.


[1] https://thelibertarianideal.com/2019/07/14/fields-of-potentiality-part-2-posthuman-developments-and-flows/

[2] Dmitry Orlov, Shrinking the Technosphere

[3] https://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/understanding-heidegger-on-technology

[4] https://www.forbes.com/sites/heathermcgowan/2020/11/05/the-coronavirus-ushers-in-the-human-capital-era/

[5] Friedrich Nietzsche, The Will to Power

[6] Eric Kaufmann, Whiteshift

[7] Eric Kaufmann, Whiteshift

[8] https://www.takimag.com/article/riots-what-riots/

[9] Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Black Swan

[10] Jonathan William Welburn et al, Systemic Risk in the Broad Economy

[11] https://thelibertarianideal.com/2019/04/20/amazon-as-a-vector/

[12] https://jacobitemag.com/2019/07/15/disintegration/

[13] https://winteroak.org.uk/2020/10/05/klaus-schwab-and-his-great-fascist-reset/

[14] https://wattsupwiththat.com/2020/11/21/what-is-the-great-reset/

[15] https://jacobitemag.com/2019/07/15/disintegration/

[16] https://mises.org/wire/new-libertarian

[17] https://thelibertarianideal.com/2019/09/08/postscript-on-libertarian-subject-users/

[18] https://www.ft.com/content/79781c20-051d-41c4-bd2c-31ceffb763e8

The Crumbling American Edifice

Biden’s victory has sent people into an idolatrous frenzy, signalling for many the end of the aberration of Trump and a turning point against all forms of nascent national populism. Where the media returns as the unchallenged arbiter of the national discourse. This pathetic liberal imagination will last well into the first months of the Biden presidency as anti-Trump activists and legacy institutions hope to herald the removal of not just Trump but his supporters, apparatchiks and ideology. How long it lasts beyond that is questionable, as the rigours of having nearly the half country view you as an existential threat to their way of life combined with the asymmetric coalition of voters and activists undergirding Biden’s victory spell a turbulent governance as his supporters (in the media, protests, donor groups, etc.) bay for blood and his opponents in the Congress gridlock and delay.

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Into the Post-Network Era

“‘Segmented, polycentric, ideologically integrated networks’ (SPINs): By segmentary I mean that it is cellular, composed of many different groups…. By polycentric I mean that it has many different leaders or centers of direction…. By networked I mean that the segments and the leaders are integrated into reticulated systems or networks through various structural, personal, and ideological ties. Networks are usually unbounded and expanding…. This acronym [SPIN] helps us picture this organization as a fluid, dynamic, expanding one, spinning out into mainstream society”[1]. Networks as unbounded and expanding give a good picture of what the defining paradigm is within the network era. An integrated, increasingly connected global society that, instead of containing the bulwarks of industrial organisation and bordered nation-states caught within rigid international blocs, has an interconnected series of junctures and circuits (of global cities, airports and international trade routes). It is, as I described before[2], a dialectic relation of deconstruction/reconstruction, where the nature of things like community, industry and citizenship are a bricolage display of decentred variables that can be picked and chosen. It is best represented by the professional association and the logistical firm, both being fluid networks of value chains, human capital, social associations and horizontal communication channels.

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Beyond Building: Networks as Constraints

“Our nation and our civilization were built on production, on building. Our forefathers and foremothers built roads and trains, farms and factories, then the computer, the microchip, the smartphone, and uncounted thousands of other things that we now take for granted, that are all around us, that define our lives and provide for our well-being”[1]. Marc Andreessen’s recent call to build as a means to regenerate American growth and reinvigorate ossifying institutions is an attempt to break through the latent stagnation in both American and wider Western growth patterns. A teleology of building to disrupt political deadlocks and move from neoliberalism or the California ideology (which has seen huge growth in software, financial engineering and logistics alongside a stagnation in productivity, wages and the “real” economy) to a state-led (or governance-led) post-Keynesian social order[2] with greater state-corporate partnership and a focus on infrastructure.

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The Dynamics of Decentralisation

Systems of governance flow from tendencies of cooperation iteratively, scaling upward from smaller units toward integrated structures. These movements of order creation are both partially spontaneous and partially constructed, flitting the borders between Hayekian evolution and grand planning. DeLanda describes these as assemblages, multi-scalar entities that exist in-and-of themselves in relations of exteriority to other units. Markets, cities, governments and other institutions can be described in these terms. The nation-state also exists as part of this matrix of relations, existing in a multiplicitous set of functions that interact variably and conflictually. They contain multiple crystallisations of power that develop alternative narratives and systems through which they compete and cooperate. Continue reading

Notes on Fractured Conflicts: Autonomous Zones and Siege/ACC

Following from my last speculations on the fractured conflict that the George Floyd protests and riots brought up, further developments of autonomous zones and alt-right infiltrations have shed more light on these conflicts that “have fractured into the dynamic tension between different tribes and the narratives they proscribe”[1]. These developments have shades of the Occupy movement in 2011 and right-wing movements with a similar attitude toward central government control who attempted self-government, but they are emplaced in a wider culture war dynamic that means the issues and relations become muddled. Continue reading

Fractured Conflict: The US Riots

The explosion of rioting and protest following the killing of George Floyd shows the fragility of US political relations and the extent to which nihilistic subjectivism – the displacement of a national subject in favour of different tribal and identity-focused conflagrations – have infected US political discourse. George Floyd’s killing as another example of police brutality was the inflection point for this to erupt, with the causal mechanisms multiplicitous and dispersed. The history of racial violence, segregation, community segmentation and deprivation are clear throughout much of the US urban geography. The limited distribution of wealth combined with the containment of gang violence and malinvestment within black neighbourhoods has created powder kegs which have regularly burst, from the civil rights-era riots to more recent events in Ferguson and Baltimore. Continue reading

Structural Fragmentation: An Analysis of Administrative Organisation in the EPS PGR Administration Team

Following on from my recent essays on various aspects of organisation theory and its applications to different political, sociological and administrative aspects, I conducted a study within the University of Birmingham analysing the EPS PGR administration team, using combined methods of workplace observation, surveys and interviews to determine the team structure, its bottlenecks and its fragmentation. Through these, I propose three solutions which could begin to restructure and reform the administrative organisation: geographic centralisation, process centralisation/reorganisation and a combination of both of these. This links to theories I’ve propounded around organisational ossification, adhocratic organisation and the nature of flux within administrative systems.

Link to the study: Structural Fragmentation Continue reading

Modes of Politics: Ideological Cycles & Fragmented Britain

Ideological Cycles

Viewing British political history through the prism of ideological waves shows distinct variations in the ideological positioning of British governments. The post-war settlement entrenched Keynesian demand management. With the stagflation crisis and the IMF bailout, Thatcherism brought in quantitative monetary policy, privatisation and market openness. Following the political failures of the Conservative Party under Thatcher and Major, New Labour presented a social democratic version of the Thatcherite consensus, neoliberalism with a human face. With this came the introduction of public-private partnerships in the NHS, education and transport infrastructure and the introduction of corporate management techniques into the public sector, flexibilising both the state and social democracy. Continue reading

Intra-Competitive Networks

In modern politics and organisations more generally, the Weberian bureaucracy of clearly-organised hierarchies, lineated systems of control and a series of standardised processes, rules and outputs has been increasingly superseded by the advent of the network, a system of loose control configured more by ideological coherency and the inculcation of values. As Mintzberg describes the evolution of organisational environments, as complexity increases (i.e. the level of knowledge and information to be processed is greater) there is a growing trend toward decentralisation (to work constellations based on expertise and experience) and organic structure based around informal mutual adjustment and work group autonomy[1]. This can be seen in the fields of human resource management, media, think tanks and regulatory organisations acutely. Continue reading