The New Normal

A common refrain for developing post-coronavirus discourses is the idea of the “new normal”. This has become a mantra of both anti-authoritarian sceptics and conspiracy theorists who see the expansion and grounding of state power during the pandemic as indicative of an authoritarian turn as the surveillance state becomes ubiquitous. However, it has also become an epithet amongst the forces many in the former group see as constructing this post-COVID dystopia, particularly the WEF and their Great Reset project.

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Postcapitalism as Indeterminate Multiplicity

Postcapitalism presents a juxtaposition of dynamics, presenting both an evolutionary and revolutionary system of transition to the next stage of economic development. Paul Mason sees postcapitalism in the interstices of information technology and production techniques within globalised supply lines and just-in-time systems. In the same way that capitalism is a “complex, adaptive system”[1] that integrates and externalises differential technologies and production/consumption techniques and cultures, postcapitalism will exploit these externalities and reroute dynamics, developing an alternate complex adaptive system focused around axioms of abundant information and collaborative production.

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Splintered War Machines

Statification, in Foucauldian terms, is the production of regimes and modes of governance conferred directly through coercive and narrativistic means. The state, rather than being a monolithic structure produced through a proscribed centre, is a series of “incessant transactions”[1] that modify and destroy alternative social relations and agential structures, developing into a centripetal force that coalesces around a state-form ideological structure. The state is the representation of these transactions, the underlying unit of account that links them together, developing a semi-coherent narrative. In concrete terms, the state expanded as a primary social form through primitive accumulation and the organisation of warfare.

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Electric Liminality

“Under the Hum, pylons were transformed. We looked up and saw sacred geometry. We looked up and saw holy angles”[1]. The electric flow of the landscape permeates everything as a contiguous energy, scything through land from substation to generating station along the grid. “Electric leys” express an interconnection with older energies and animistic beliefs – “the belief that natural materials/landscapes – water, wood, soil stone etc, were animated and imbued with the spirits of ancestral forebears”[2]. Emerson conceived these relations as an autonomous function of nature, both within and beyond human understanding as through the over-soul. “Of this pure nature every man is at some time sensible. Language cannot paint it with his colors. It is too subtile. It is undefinable, unmeasurable, but we know that it pervades and contains us”[3]. It is interpretable as an immaterial energy, imbued with emotional and theological spectres that take it beyond a simple dialogue of conceptualisation. Animistic energies are classifiable only by the linguistic markers and meanings put upon them. Whether thought of through its components or in the wider abstraction of “nature”, it goes beyond the dialogic into the intuitive, conceived through feeling at its basest levels as the “independency of those limitations”[4] are met.

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Utopia & Uchronia

Utopia was a juxtaposition of the conspiracy thriller. Named after the Utopia Experiments, an in-story zine that documented and predicted a series of pandemics and diseases that afflicted human and animal demographics, it presented the existence of a shadow network (The Network) of scientists, politicians, intelligence agents and sleeper cells attempting to prevent the exposure of the second Utopia Experiments while at the same time directing public health policies toward an outcome of mass sterilisation.

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Right-Wing Folk Politics

Srnicek & Williams make an interesting observation regarding left-wing protest movements, riots and demonstrations that have occurred throughout the late 20th and early 21st centuries. “For a brief moment, nothing stood between us and the convention centre. We scrambled atop the toppled fence, but for the most part we went no further, as if our intention all along had been simply to replace the state’s chain-link and concrete barrier with a human one of our own making”[1]. This exemplifies the folk political condition the authors describe, focused as it is on the instantaneous affect of the protest or the riot. The event is the locus of political action. A spectacle emerges whether in the WTO protests, the Occupy movement or the George Floyd summer protests where the activity of expression is prised above abstract goals. Ideas of direct democracy or police abolition are made memetic through these symbolic expressions, being extensions of the protest or the riot rather than their cause and effect.

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Catastrophism & Cycles

Catastrophe is the inversion of reality’s construction, the interaction of the symbolic and real registers as social reality faces its endogenous and exogenous effects and interventions. Rather than either the linear dynamics of an evolutionary history or the peaks and troughs of a symmetrical cyclicality of history, catastrophe is the outside looking in as transformative dynamics beyond control or understanding change the landscape of constructable possibilities. The meeting of the contingent with the possible, as the existing structuration of agencies and institutions are made untenable in the face of accelerating environments of constitutive change.

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Unknown Unknowns: Automaticity & Agency

Agency is the extension of the actant into a social relation, attempting to implement their desires and enact commitments. In this extension, the values and commitments of actants come up against those of others. Commitment as extension moves being from a passive subjectivity (caught within the flows of intercourse that formulate an advanced sentience) toward a referential agency (referencing the understanding of these flows as a form of sapience). A move from the limited individuation of a self-interested perspectival mode[1] toward a greater collective understanding with attendant conflicts and negotiations between different agents in these collective assemblages. This extends beyond the simple relations of human formations, into wider assemblages or paradigms as Latour describes them[2]. In paradigms, we see a wide field of potential actors producing relations and oppositions. Latour uses the story of a hotel manager, who in encouraging his guests to leave their room keys at the front desk before leaving the hotel, attempts various technological and social methods, from warning signs and reminders to changing the design of the keys themselves, adding a small weight which makes the keys bulkier and less desirable to carry around. These are the syntagms that are built upward in paradigmatic extensions. In these continual extensions, we see the emergence of an agential field, including not just the hotel manager but the lay out of the hotel (with added signs and reminders) and the construction and design of the key itself, producing a particular technical assemblage where the manager’s agency is mixed with a technicity of control.

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Institutional Oceanography

“An oceanography of alternative codes and semiotics, where the new lifeworlds are below the surface of our view”[1]. In contrast to the map and the land, the ocean was an unpredictable expanse known for its destructive potential and illimitable depth. The Hereford Mappa Mundi depicts the oceans as mysterious outer seas, possibly being linkages to biblical lands and the afterlife. Hitler found the limits of blitzkrieg at the coasts of the Atlantic Ocean. “According to Nazi doctrine, strangely enough, there is just one element: the lithosphere, the earth, blood. Despite the war in the air and under the sea, the offensive of the first space weapons, the atmosphere and the hydrosphere remain foreign to Hitlerian ideology”[2]. It is in the map, in the explicitly understood landscape of Europe where Hitlerian ideology remained, a vestige of a limited nomos that only saw a land empire (and a land army) as the primary forces of conquest (despite the irony of Nazi innovation around rocket technology and air-based warfare). The Lebensraum enveloped the Nazi’s institutional cartography, with the sea as its limit, much as the early cosmographers saw the outer seas as liminal places, unpredictable in their potential.

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Inside the Financial Babel

Everyone assumes they speak the same language in their interconnected sphere of activity, whether in the literal sense or in the way they share particular linguistic markers. Shared patterns and norms are the mechanisms through which financial markets become institutionalised, and through which specialisation develops. “A capital market entails security of property rights”[1], or as Ayache theorises in the moment of the conversion of credit to equity, the market entails a move away from a finite social process of start-stop exchangeability to an asocial process of contingency through continuous exchangeability. The processes of debt and credit are “past and passive”, while the development of convertibility (into bonds or stock) is an “infinity of processes”[2].

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