Frontierless

All the frontiers have been closed. The expansive homogenisation of modernity and the incipient repetition of postmodernity have turned exits into loops. Closed cycles through which recurrence within set parameters becomes the primary mechanism of social action. Exits, where they do exist, are largely transitory and minimal, providing a small degree of separation from the wider machinations of civilisation. Where alternative ideologies or lifeways do appear, they are quickly colonised and inverted by processes of commodification and reconciliation with the prevailing managerial ideology.

The closing of the Western frontier in America or the enclosure of the commons in Europe are simply examples of the cyclicality of homogenising expansion and the instantiation of unitary rule. The expansion of leviathan that encodes, maps and surveys its territory, population and activities. “An institutional cartography then meant the literal expansion of power through legibility, both in imperial conquest but also in centralised monarchical control over metropoles and estates. What was once a fluid territory of fragmented political action (with autonomous bases of power away from capital cities) was transformed into a contiguous state with an associated administrative bureaucracy”[1].

Wild territory or unowned space have become either anachronisms which are gawked at and surrounded by barriers (as in concepts like rewilding[2]) or scenes of extreme violence where the military forces of ideological colonisation come up against pre-modern, criminal or terroristic forces (the Afghan mountains, the Shan, parts of Somalia, cartel controlled parts of Mexico, etc.). Everything has been bought and paid for, caught in abstract networks of financial transactions and massive surveillance and data collection that tracks movements, assigns resources and determines one’s position in the managerial mass. Even so-called new frontiers of sea and space are controlled by techno-managerial infrastructures only accessible to government agencies and billionaires. The internet has become the site of various levels of surveillance, from social media tracking for advertisements to metadata collection by intelligence agencies.

This managerial homogenisation has integrated the various elements of society into “mass structures of the managerial regime as a collectivity of factory and office workers, tenants in mass residential facilities, and consumers of the managerial capitalist economy, as mass voting blocs manipulated by the political mechanisms of the managerial state, and as a mass audience disciplined by the uniform and unilateral signals of the mass organizations of culture and communication”[3]. Modern crises have only exacerbated these tendencies, with the 2008 financial crisis increasing the monopoly power of investment management corporations (like BlackRock) and established trusts and hedge funds to control vast swathes of property and other assets. Modern ownership is entirely abstracted into financial systems of trusts and mortgages. No one truly owns or controls land as it is caught up in financial networks outside of any direct control.

The covid pandemic has similarly exacerbated the surveillance mechanisms of states and platforms, bringing in explicit biomedical controls like vaccine passports and test-and-trace systems that have high levels of public support. The future potential of social credit systems further extends managerial homogenisation. “Legislation for a score-based SCS (social credit system) would entail quantifying a catalogue of behaviour, which means attaching certain amounts of points to certain behaviours. This extra step between behaviour and punishment would effectively decouple the act from the punishment that the criminal code or administrative penalty law provides”[4]. In other words, the implementation of an anarcho-tyrannical system of administrative procedures that target individuals based on ideological preconceptions and arbitrary decision-making.

Ideological developments in post-liberal forms of capitalism show where anarcho-tyranny can end up, with a culturally authoritarian substructure that increasingly undergirds labour markets, HR policies, education, sexual morals and corporate relations in hoc with wealthy trusts and think tanks that substantively influence social policy[5]. Even ownership over decision-making is disintegrating as institutional and cultural settings are accelerating beyond comprehension. The increase in choices and options has resulted in a decrease of control, with change being the dominant force of social action[6]. The mass of managerial ideology is transitioning into the flows of network infrastructure.

As the frontier closes, exit or escape become both ever more necessary to limit the entropic collapse of colossal systems and their extent of control while more difficult to achieve. BAP talks of owned space as the progenitor of freedom[7]. However, it is owned space which now no longer meaningfully exists as it is caught up in the network infrastructure, always at the whim of exogeneous financial or political decisions. The particularity of ownership is quashed as a means of escape. And the corollary of owned space, unowned space, is itself restricted to the point of nonexistence.

The remaining exits are increasingly destructive, either waiting for collapse or portending its tendencies. Insurrectionary violence, terrorism or organised crime within difficult to control territory remain the few places where escape from the wider machinations of ideological and coercive colonisation is possible. The frontierless future appears to be one of collapse and the (potentially violent) scrambling to regain possession over owned space.


[1] https://thelibertarianideal.com/2021/02/15/institutional-oceanography/

[2] https://stoneageherbalist.substack.com/p/the-forest-people

[3] Samuel T. Francis, Leviathan & Its Enemies

[4]https://www.researchgate.net/publication/334896053_THE_SOCIAL_CREDIT_SYSTEM_AND_CHINA%27S_RULE_OF_LAW

[5] https://theupheaval.substack.com/p/no-the-revolution-isnt-over

[6] Hartmut Rosa, Social Acceleration

[7] BAP, Bronze Age Mindset

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