Fields of Potentiality: Part 2 – Posthuman Developments and Flows

The evolutions of capitalist organisation have been along dividual lines, as both market developments and corporate forms become singular and combinatory in their nature and relations. New addresses have formed that constitute different methods of organisation beyond current institutional methods of measurement. The initial organisation of capitalism and markets was premised initially upon the centrality of private property and individual ownership. Individuals traded wares in markets and exchanged ownership of goods for money or some other equivalent. They would occasionally form firms so as to better organise their resources and increase their efficiency and productivity by limiting the market’s effects through internal transfers and contracts that organised production with the aim of producing whole products from initially fragmented parts. Continue reading

Fields of Potentiality: Part 1 – Posthuman Subjects and Dividual Lines

The development of institutional and conversational maps to understand the prevailing discourses and powers in societies tend to produce themselves around a human subject and its collective scales. It is centred around the individual as the indivisible being, that which is unique and dissimilar from its combinations of emotional, cultural and institutional shaping that form a persona. However new configurations and concatenations are developing that resituate being and the individual in new contexts, a-centring them and introducing new users and entities. They are neither “individual parts nor…an imagined whole…community”[1], but rather heterogeneous collections of addressable elements and flows of intercursive knowledge and resources. This then goes beyond a simple cartography of institutions and sovereign claims, going instead to deeper, darker recesses of posthuman existences that bring into question human centrality, and develop methods of alterity and potentiality beyond existing maps. Continue reading

Electoral Fragmentation: A European Village

An interesting article published in Zeit Online presents a full map of European electoral decisions analysing the most recent European election results across EU member states, ranging from municipal to national elections[1]. This map presents the full gamut of European fragmentation, split not just regionally but also non-contiguously as populist political parties that come from multiple ideological angles are able to win in different electoral swaths. The transformation of Lega Nord from a separatist party to a generic Italian populist party that is able to (partially) govern Italy and from there question EU edicts and attempt to create new European factions is a primary example of this European fragmentation brought about by populist parties. Continue reading

Conversational Maps

The hardening of modern political discourse and its dichotomous elements (establishment vs the people, remain vs leave, left vs right) suggest that our modern political institutions are unable to map the conversational nexus that increasingly fragments and recombines before it. The arenas of political discourse are discohered as their foundational axioms are themselves brought to question, turned upside down as alien norms that no longer structure our social institutions. “The rules are now part of the divisions themselves and thus no longer represent a structured, binding worldview. Axioms are being liquefied and institutions don’t have an answer to it”[1]. Continue reading

Amazon as a Vector

“Platforms act as both springboards for alterity and the means for monopolisation. They increase exit amongst the platform owners in some senses, and amongst the users in others”[1]. They are hubs for communication and vectors for different forms of socio-economic organisation. If we view history as a series of Kondratiev waves (50-60 year developments of techno-social evolution) or epochal sequences (as defined by Mumford as the period of technics), our current period can be described as the “Age of Informations and Telecommunication”[2] or the intertechnic period[3] respectively. Much as the neotechnic phase of production that Mumford identified sat between the eotechnic and paleotechnic forms, in the intertechnic the power of e-commerce, internet communicatory networks and social media sit between monopolistic tendencies and decentralist modes, with Amazon as a particular vector of this intertechnic phase. This phase is not some cliff-edge, but rather a representation of the ambiguity of internet structures (platforms, marketplaces, multimedia, etc.) that both have decentralising means and tendencies and have individual organisations in this ecology that attempt to control the flows and methods of these tendencies. Thus questions of antitrust, economic organisation and what our institutions should do and will be come to be primary. Continue reading

Battlegrounds of Axioms and Totalities

The realities and codes of modern politics as a series of negotiations and compromises between political actors over distributional, international and regulatory affairs are giving way to something more viscous and difficult to map. The codifications of politics as a delineation of ideological variation between competing but generally set groups whose ideas were known through manifestos and negotiated through shared axioms are now being de-codified as situations are becoming more and more complex, eating away at these institutional capacities to cope. The axioms that were before set in place through loose constitutional frameworks and arenas for debate (parliaments, congresses and ballot boxes) are now becoming battlegrounds and fissures where difference gives way to disconnection and insularity, and where the totality of politics that was previously found in negotiated strategies is now found in singular issues and neo-tribal forms. Continue reading

Patchwork as Real World Vectors

This is the transcript of the talk I gave for the Wyrd Patchworkshop Quattro –

I define patchwork as the adaptation and fragmentation of institutional structures through the processes of exit and voice. In this sense patchwork can be seen in multiple real-world vectors where developments are creating institutional complexification and blurring the lines of jurisdiction and sovereignty. Spontaneous disorder, the overload of socio-economic information, is accelerating financial and logistical matters beyond direct control and thus altering and de-codifying the decentralised plans that Hayek described as integral to markets. These restructuring dynamics are part of what I would call our intertechnic period of socio-economic-technological capacities and apparatuses which gives precedence to communication, inter-operability and speed. Continue reading

Social Media and Governance: The Disequilibrium of Communication and Commodification

The intersection of social media and governance present an interesting dilemma between communication and commodification, as the pull of both produces disequilibrium between and amongst the various platforms and their relation to governing structures. There is a segmented relation between the use and reproduction of human capital (as represented through data, influence and images) and the possibilities for resistance and world-building that these platforms allow. “Images, information, knowledge, affects, codes, and social relationships . . . . are coming to outweigh material commodities or the material aspects of commodities in the capitalist valorization process” as “living beings as fixed capital are at the center of this transformation, and the production of forms of life is becoming the basis of added value”[1]. The governing of the interactions of socio-economic spheres have found a new force to contend with in the form of the platform and the social media network, as issues of data management, image control, proprietary rights and arbitration become central to people’s existence on online forums. A swirling disequilibria develops between the processes of social communication outside the market/company moorings, and the processes of commodification/valorisation that pull these communicatory nodes back into the circuits of capital. Continue reading

Politics of Nodes

The recent political scene of the West can be seen as the growth of fragmentation of nationality, social identity and the political collectivity. The most obvious events come to mind: Trump, Brexit, the Gilets Jaunes and other currents of populist fervour. However these events have greater lineages than is supposed in most media narratives. The tribalism present in modern politics and the ideological variation are built from blocks made during the fall of mass parties and the increasing relevance of policy automaticity and the growth of life politics. A politics of antagonism has built itself upon infrastructure of political disengagement and senses of consensus. Continue reading

Libertarianism as Ambivalence and Critique

The libertarian political goal is dead. The achievement of a small state, so small that you could drown it in the bath, is never going to be achieved in pluralistic democracies that favour particular groups of lobbyists, tribes or social movements. Each of these groups will increasingly desire patronage and a seat at the table, increasing the complexity of decision-making and the distribution of resources which in turn increases the scope of the state and its organisational nexus. A small state then is impossible unless coercive structures are in place to limit its growth, thus making the ideal of a small state redundant.

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