Essays on Principles of Energetic Materialism 3: Re-claiming Back the Holistic Emancipatory Thinking

After what happened in Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Bahrein, Syria, Ukraine; to the lives of peoples in these countries; to Saddam, Osama Ben Laden, Gaddafi, Assad…  the overall reaction of the mainstream media and academia to these, and most people’s confused reception of the twisted reality provided for them to live in, as well as the lack of willingness shown to go after, search for and believe some kind of truth -while emancipatory knowledge may be resting just a click away; one cannot help thinking twice about the conspiracy-esoteric stories about UFOs, aliens, Atlantis, Osiris, hambala & shambala, NWO assemblage… There lies a traditional contradiction between the popularity and  unpopularity of such stories, between the appeal these have (on people who close to right wing thinking) addressed and the relative ease they offers to the reader / believers. One might find worthy to recognise the work done by ‘ordinary’, meaning non-academically trained people for searching, digging, and trying to produce stories hid by the powerful, yet one needs to question the weakness notions generated in these circles. It
cannot be a coincidence that the producers and consumers of such stories are not that interested in formulating remarkably strong arguments, self-reflection on the thinking way and methodology as well as the scepticism about the subject of the theory (like Atlantis). So obvious ‘gap’ is being often left behind unquestioned in a similar
fashion to generally promoted mainstream stories. The systematic or historic nature of the ways and why’s of rulers or conspirators collective actions on manipulation or hiding of such knowledge that bears the truth becomes untouched. There is not much effort to
establish, scientificish, systematically built research to build up rigorous theories grounded on hard evidences for really important stuff, waiting for publically recognised answers for the crucial questions  about the other civilisations existed before ours on earth
or beyond our-planet. Thus, most of the stuff remains in the same wane of religious, mythical kind of metaphysical story-telling.

Where the real gap lies may be the worse. The lack of courage shown from politically emancipatory thinking in addressing the most strange, unanswered, and consciously manipulated fields addressed.  It is of course then it would get very hard to understand the mainstream reactions to preaches of people like David Icke, or this kinds of speculations and conspiring about the real-truth. While they may not be more ridiculous then respectable visions of delivered by say by Dr. Michio Kaku, Mr. Bush or Mr. Obama when they launch the Gnome or Brain projects. Or the theme and visions represented by CS (Vatican), or the IS? We are living in a world similar to dark ages of Europe, where telling and sharing of a crucial knowledge of the truth publicly put you in jail next to Julian Assange, Private Manning, and Edward Snowden. Think of the fact that probably majority of people, somehow educated, would name Einstein as the most intelligence man ever lived. Yet the same ‘general culture’ knowledge holders would name Einstein again this time as the inventor of the atomic bomb. Very little would know that this has been a result of a ruling elite campaign, and Einstein had nothing to do with military research. In fact, the reason why Kaku appears as an appealing cuddly genius while Einstein remains as the inventor of the most destructive weapons is the fact that Kaku promotes a ‘perfect capitalism’ that serves for the emerging new powerful, while Einstein has been publicly known as socialist and dreamed of free energy and knowledge for all.

Early 90s, I started to study mechanical engineering and tried to coop with it for four years. Then had enough  and decided to reject to be turned into a screw in the socioeconomic-engineering-machine. Felt being loaded with tons of math-formulas to solve the industrial problems market faces. My mind stuffed with granted formal
complex-math of thermo- and hydro-dynamics, statics, kinetics, Newton- and quantum-mechanics, mechanisms, engines, electric- and cybernetic-control systems, so on and so forth applications of such. Lacking historical or philosophical back ground of the science and methodology, that lays behind such formulas, we were basically being ‘built-in’ in the and campus as part of a larger machine, or better being coded as wet-ware of a social-computer. This was what I wanted to refuse and decided to study ‘economics’ instead. Thanks to self-educational efforts I did to start learning history and philosophy of science and political economy, I was guessing that, but was interesting to see that virtually same thing was happening in the ‘discipline’ I surprised a bit. Even after keep going to try learning in other fields, like solving a puzzle, for a long time I did shamefully miss that there has actually been a branch or ‘discipline’ that goes beyond all branches/disciplines and “shall rules them all’. This relatively recent discovery I did came as a small scale shock. I thought, f..k! All those readings about post modernism, modernism, social theory, classes, dialectics, materialism, methodology and philosophy of science… In none of the stupid ‘major debates’, by none of the ‘major thinkers’, at least in the scattered fields I was aware of, there was no mention of the existence of unified holistic (even or especially a bourgeois science) that goes beyond classical problems like object-subject division, level of
analysis, and all others caused by Augmented Division of Disciplines. I had come to think that idealist and metaphysical bourgeois system would not allow such. The decision to move into the similarly designed and divided field of social sciences (and humanities) in order to search for an holistic and emancipatory methodology for emancipatory understanding of the emancipatory reality beyond the visible, made me blind. I was looking for an updated and advanced version of dialectical materialism, or something like that. The closest it got was ‘Integral Theory’,  . At the end of the day the move I made away from being coded into those, disabled me for a while and I prevented
myself from realizing WTH is modern cybernetics, systems theory, complex systems, AI, and all other derivative fields are about. Bourgeois version of almost competed anti-diamat, science of total control has been in the making; I just discovered or grasped some
months ago that the list goes the way back to Tektology and Bogdanov. This personal insight led me to do two things: first one is to read more work of Wark as well as other media and digital theorists, since it seems these were the disciplines who already knew the existence of the unified field of ruling science (yet couldn’t somehow achieve to
bring the issue forward), besides the practitioners of mentioned unified science fields and settlers of the Silicon Valley. The second thing I did to do a U turn and re-studying algebra, calculus, differential calculus and mathematical physics online.

One of the driving motive behind this enterprise has been to grasp or more concretely envision the physical capacity available and targeted by the ruling class, in order to control and socialize, -and finally unify at least ‘the science and fields in my head’. Relatively much
easier access to such knowledge helped a lot of course; see a sample lesson on waves topics on khan academy for instance (https://www.khanacademy.org/science/physics/waves-and-optics/v/amplitude-period-frequency-and-wavelength-of-periodic-waves).
It is virtually possible for almost everyone to start from scratch and learn it all. Against this backdrop, was just reading the below speech of Wark at Digital Labour event. Then read two other more recent pieces of him on dialectic materialism (http://www.publicseminar.org).
Didn’t read yet Zizek’s Absolute Recoil yet, yet what in these two essays Wark does is, to me, using critic of Zizek as an reason, to bring forward traces of the turbulence in which the real search of an holistic and emancipatory science, philosophy, history, and politics
got lost, of went clandestine in the Zeitgeist of the time -and may be unwilling may be conscious help from Lenin. Christian Fuchs also did a similar contribution, also addressing antinomies of Zizek’s Hegelian dialectics, promising that a better and updated version of diamat, or ground to build such do exist -though only in German for the moment(http://www.triple-c.at/index.php/tripleC/article/view/640). Similarly
important work I have been following was Nick Dyer-Witheford’s
(www.culturemachine.net/index.php/cm/article/download/511/526) and Matteo Pasquinelli’s recent articles (https://www.academia.edu/9162594/Augmented_Intelligence).

Agreeing with Nic and others thinking similar, I find the currently heating-up exchange on Net-time, and other places about this stuff is scary and promising as very important for any hope for people, live and planet. If one thing I should mention that would be about identifying the importance of the form and content of the struggle currently being
shaped: the fact that there has always been and will continue to be, major intra class-contest is the quest for quantum computing and AI [as a global or absolute general intellect]. May be good and bad luck at the same time, for the rest of us, that the discovery of such computing capacity would be very much depending on a more important discovery of the ‘theory of everything’, in cosmology and/or mathematical-physics that is believed to give a simple math formula explains how unifies the gravity into the ‘Standard Model’ which already gave the math of other 4 fields unifies, so the rules of micro-, meso- and macro-cosmos operate simply and in order with chaotic and complex appearance. Since the combination of these two might give, and believed to give, the formula and algorithms to be coded in cybernetics modelling, AI, that can be applied on all organic, inorganic, immaterial complex-systems, their design and control, you can see where it could go. I think, Nic, you are making the core point. May be we are not and should not directly expect the vision and philosophy to emerge one persons’ formulations or insights be it this is Marx, Engels, Luxembura, Bogdanov, Doctorov, Hayek, Zizek, Negri, Harvey, Wark, or no one else.. if it is going to be a planetary and working one wouldn’t be necessary to really be built collectively and by those who recognize and accept each-others as peers?

ps:

–       For a good visualization of the current level of the power of
algorithms see Google on geo-data:
https://www.google.com/work/mapsearth/products/earthpro.html -gives an
idea about the geo-engineering capacity being gained through Earth-Data

–       And this one is just good to visualise strangeness of the epistemological situation, geo- historical-data: this image identified on Google-Earth in 2009, at the bottom of Atlantic ocean, very near to the region described by Plato as the location of civilisation called Atlantis. If you missed it, worth to check out the image:
http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/article2255989.ece funny that the scientific or sceptical interest to this is near zero, especially after the Sun, points it out. Just like a magic touch, when a mainstream media like the Sun, or right wing/conspiracy communities take on it, any topic becomes immune to real-critical inquiry.

–       For last this is about a recent achievement in universe simulation work, modelling done for 13~ billion years with near perfection and help of a super computer:
http://www.cfa.harvard.edu/news/2014-10

–       And about the theory of everything and unified fields work,
watch this –via Singularity University: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dK0qkkjimfo

Orsan

[in response to below exchange on net-time e-list]

On 12/12/2014 11:24, nettime’s avid reader wrote:

This is the meaning of the Anthropocene: that the futures of the
human and material worlds are now totally entwined. Just as Nietzsche
declared that God is dead, now we know that ecology is dead. There
is no longer a homeostatic cycle that can be put right just by
withdrawing. There is no environment that forms a neutral background
to working and hacking.

Just as the category of `man’ collapses once there is no God, so
too the category of the social collapses when there is no environment.
The material world is laced with traces of the human, and the human
turns out to be made of nothing much besides displaced flows of this
or that element or molecule.

What a load of crap. It is this fantasy of total-control – of the
collapse of the more-than-human world into the human world – that is
undone by the Anthropocene. It is not ecology that is dead but
*society* and along with it the macho-dream of ‘Hacking the Planet!’).
Ecology is alive and kicking, as is geology. The vast majority of the
bio- and geological worlds are not only apart from us but also utterly
indifferent to us. There is no symmetry here between ‘culture’ and
‘nature’ as implied by Wark (and, just to say, Latour well before him).
There is only a radical asymmetry between the human and inhuman, one
that means the Earth has never been a backdrop but a participant, and a
domineering one. The converse is not true however – Humanity has never
been a context for the Earth, even in the Anthropocene. To have an
effect, an unintended one, is not to radically undo the asymmetries
that make the Earth the context of human life, and humanity but one
species and force amongst others. The Anthropocene is, after all, the
name for a world accidentally polluted by some people, engaged in some
specific socio-economic practices. It is far, far, from an expression
of either species-being or species-agency. The Anthropocene means not
learning to master the world anew, to resurrect Modernist fantasies,
but to learn to live on unstable ground, to give up visions of control
and to inhabit the world vulnerably.

The Anthropocene calls not so much for new ways of thinking as for
new ways of practicing knowledge. When the going gets weird, the
weird turn pro. And it is likely to get weird — in this lifetime,
or the next. That’s why I think we could start working now, not on
theory of the Anthropocene, but theory for the Anthropocene. One could
do worse, I think, than imagine and practice again something like a
tektology and a proletkult – a tektology for hackers, a proletkult
for cyborgs. Let’s build a world, and live in it.

someone beat him to it – its called geoengineering, and its about
maintaining the illusion of progress and the process of endless
accumulation after the end of frontiers…

nic

…………….

The following transcript is taken from a recent talk delivered
by McKenzie Wark at the Digital Labor (http://digitallabor.org/)
conference presented by The New School.

I want to start with the proposition that in a place like New York
City, we live in the over-developed world. Somehow we overshot some
point of transformation. A transformation that didn’t happen,
perhaps couldn’t happen. But in having failed to take that exit, we
end up in some state of over-development. In the over-developed world,
the commodity economy is feeding on itself, cannibalizing itself.

There is of course an under-developed world, sometimes in intimate
proximity to the over-developed one. You can find it even here in New
York City. One can critique the orientalism of the fact that Willets
Point, Queens is known among New Yorkers as ‘little Calcutta’,
but it really is a place without paved roads, running water, and with
mostly off the books, illegal or precarious jobs.

But you can forget that under-developed world exists if you live in
the bubble of the over-developed world. Some of us don’t have to do
the manual version of precarious labor, at least. But there is a sense
in which some characteristics of that labor have actually found their
way into the over-developed world as well.

Viewed from inside the bubble of New York, the paradox of digital
labor these days is the way that tech enables the over-development
of under-development. Technologies are shaped by the struggle over
their form. It was not given from an essence that the digital would
end up as control over labor rather than control by labor. But in the
current stage of conflict and negotiation, the over-development of
under-development seems to me to describe a tendency for labor.

In any case, labor isn’t the only class struggling in and against
the digital. I still think there is a difference between being a
worker and being a hacker. I think of hacker as a class category:
there is a hacker class. Hackers are those whose efforts are
commodifed in the form of intellectual property. What they make can be
turned into copyrights, patents or trademarks.

The hacker class is distinguished by a few qualities. It usually means
working with information, but not in a routine way. It is different
from white-collar labor. It is about producing new arrangements of
information rather than ‘filling in the forms.’

As such, it can be a bit hard to make routine. New things just
don’t appear on time. Not if they are really new. There’s a
kind of ‘innovation’ that is actually quite close to routine,
and the hacker class does that too. It’s the new ad campaign,
the new wrinkle on the old technical process, the new song or app
or screenplay. But the big qualitative leaps are much harder to
subordinate to the reified, routinized forms of labor.

The ruling class of our time, what I call the vectoral class, needs
both these kinds of hack. The vectoral class needs the almost-routine
innovation. The existing commodity cycles demand it. As our attention
fades and boredom looms, there has to be some just slightly new
iteration of the old properties: some new show, new app, new drug, new
device.

What is interesting at the moment are the strategies being deployed to
spread the cost and lower the risk of this routine innovation. This is
what I think start-up culture is all about. It spreads and privatizes
the risk while providing privileged access to innovation that is
starting to prove its value to the vectoral class, whose ‘business
model’ is to own, control, flip, litigate, and – if absolutely
necessary – even build out new kinds of intellectual property.

The other kind of hack, the really transformative ones, are another
matter. To some extent the vectoral class does not really want these,
no matter what the ruling ideology says about disruption. Having your
life disrupted is for little people. The vectoral class doesn’t
like surprises. Its goal is to come as close enough to a monopoly in
something to extract rent from it.

The kind of mode of production we appear to be entering is one that
I don’t think is quite capitalism as classically described. This
is not capitalism, this is something worse. I see the vectoral
class as the emerging ruling class of our time, whose power rests
on attempting to command the whole production process by owning and
controlling information. In the over-developed world, an information
infrastructure, a kind of third nature, now commands the old
manufacturing and distribution infrastructure, or second nature, which
in turn commands the resources of this planet, which is how nature now
appears to us.

The command strategies of the vectoral class rely on the accumulation
of stocks, flows and vectors of information. The vectoral class turns
information as raw material into property, and as property into
asymmetry, inequality and control. It extracts a rent from privatized
information, held as monopoly, while minimizing or displacing risk.

One strategy is to socialize the risk of the real hack. This is
probably why public universities and publicly funded research still
exist. The tax-payer can take the risk on the really basic research.
The university research park model is now set up to carefully modulate
access to information about anything that might make a valuable
property.

Another strategy is what one might call auto-disruption. Learning
from the mistakes of the old capitalist firms of the industrial
eras, this model takes the hacker practice in-house. Firms with
existing rent-extraction revenue flows become hoarders of potentially
monetizable intellectual property, or the people who look like they
could produce it. This is to be deployed only when it disrupts
somebody else’s business more than one’s own.

So that’s the vectoral class. The problem with belonging to the
hacker class in a world the vectoral class rules are these: firstly,
certain modest forms of the hack now fall into an outsourced,
‘casualized’, even amateur kind of economy. Certain competences
became widespread that there is no way to extract value from them as
skills. Certain models of distributed or algorithm-based path-seeking
turn out to work as well as hiring the top talent to pick a path for
you.

Secondly, more higher-order hack abilities might still command their
own price in the market, and one might even end up owning a piece of
whatever one produces. But it becomes less and less likely that you
get to own it all. One becomes at best a minor share-holder in one’s
own brain.

Of course the situation with the worker is even worse than the hacker.
The commodification of the life-world eats into the old cultures of
solidarity and equality. Everything becomes game-like, a win-lose
proposition. The world of third nature, that Borgesian data map that
exactly covers its territory, is quite literally programmed to be
anti-social.

In daily life there can be a continuum of experience between being a
worker and a hacker. They are not absolute categories from the point
of view of experience. One can pass from one to the other. Both can be
precarious ways to make a living. The white male ‘bro-grammer’ is
not the only kind of hacker, just as the blue collar hard-hat is not
the only kind of worker.

For worker and hacker alike, the dominant affects are those of envy
and jealousy, and covetousness. One is supposed to hate those with
just a bit more than you, while at the same time loving those with
much, much more. Those with a bit more must be undeserving; those who
own everything apparently do so with unquestionable right.

For worker and hacker alike, there is a struggle to achieve some kind
of class consciousness, and a social consciousness even beyond that,
against the atomizing affect of the time. I just don’t think it is
quite the same class consciousness.

For labor, it is always a matter of solidarity and equality. For
the hacker, class consciousness is always modulated by the desire
for difference, for distinction, for recognition by one’s real
peers. It is a sensibility that can be captured by the bourgeois
individualism propagated by the vectoral class, but it is not the same
thing. Winning the stock-option lottery is not the same thing as the
respect of one’s peers. Nor does it translate into any agency in
giving form to the world.

It may not come as any surprise that the world this work and these
hacks are building is one that cannot last. One might as well say
already that this is already a civilization that does not exist. The
material conditions that afford it are eroding already. Whether we are
adding to the world some quantity of labor or some quality of hack, it
is as if we were just building more sandcastles while the tide comes
in.

This is the meaning of the Anthropocene: that the futures of the
human and material worlds are now totally entwined. Just as Nietzsche
declared that God is dead, now we know that ecology is dead. There
is no longer a homeostatic cycle that can be put right just by
withdrawing. There is no environment that forms a neutral background
to working and hacking.

Just as the category of ‘man’ collapses once there is no God, so
too the category of the social collapses when there is no environment.
The material world is laced with traces of the human, and the human
turns out to be made of nothing much besides displaced flows of this
or that element or molecule.

The dogma that ‘reality is socially constructed’ turns out not
so much to be wrong as to be meaningless. What all the workers and
hackers of the world are building is more and more of the same
impossible, nonexistent world. We are building third nature as the
hyperreal.

Two tasks present themselves, then. The first is to think the worker
and hacker as distinct classes but which have a common project. The
second is to think that common project as building a different world.
Can this infrastructure we keep building out, this second and third
nature, actually be the platform for building another one? Can it be
hacked?

It is a dizzying prospect. This is why I turn to the work of Alexander
Bogdanov, because he thought it could be done. Sometimes it is good to
have ancestors, even if they are funny uncles and queer aunts rather
than the patriarchs. Bogdanov was Lenin’s rival for the leadership
of the Bolshevik party. Shunted aside by about 1910, he turned to two
projects, which went by the names of tektology and proletkult.

I think of Bogdanov’s tektology as a project of worker and hacker
self-organization that would use the qualitative medium of language
rather than the quantitative one of exchange as the means for
conveying forms, ideas, diagrams, from one design problem to another.
Could there be an art of sharing what works? Could a hack that derives
from one design problem be floated speculatively as a possible form
or guide for another? Bogdanov’s tektology is like a philosophical
Github.

I think of Bogdanov’s proletkult as a project of autonomous worker
and hacker cultural production. Bogdanov had a positive, rather than
a negative theory of ideology. We all need an affect, a story, a
structure of feeling that is really motivating and connecting. Can we
be moved and joined by something other than envy, greed, spite, rage
or the other click-bait of the game-ifed, commodifed, hyperreal world?
Can there be other worldviews and worldviews of the others?

In a way tektology is the work and proletkult the play aspects of
building an actual world, in the gaps and fissures of this unreal one
that surrounds us. The keynote for Bogdanov was that this had to be a
cooperative and collaborative project, based on the worldview of the
hacker and worker. This would be a different worldview to both those
of authoritarianism and exchange.

We have to think how things work without assuming there is someone
or something in charge, a final God-like arbiter, even if it is the
hyper-chaos God of the speculative realists. And we also have to think
how things work without imagining there’s just a bunch of atomized
monads, competing with each other, where the ideal order is magically
self-organizing and emergent.

We need another worldview, one drawn out of what is left of the
actually collaborative and collective and common practices via which
the world is actually built and run, a worldview of solidarity and the
gift. A worldview that works as a low theory extracted from worker and
hacker practices, rather than a high theory trying to legislate about
them from above.

It is not hard to see here what infuriated Lenin about Bogdanov. For
Bogdanov, both proletkult and tektology are experimental practices,
of prototyping ideas and things, trying them out, modifying them.
There’s no correct and controlling über-theory, as there is in
different ways in Lenin or Lukacs. There is more of a hacker ethos
here, rather than that of the authoritarian worldview one still finds
in a Lenin or a Lukacs or in parody form in Zizek, where those in
command of the correct dialectical materialist worldview are beyond
question.

In Bogdanov’s worldview, there is no master-discourse that controls
all the others. There is a continuum of practices, from the natural
sciences, through engineering and design, to culture and art. The
science and design part is mostly covered by the idea of a tektology;
the culture and art part by proletkult. But they overlap, and both
matter.

Bogdanov’s openness to the natural sciences, engineering and design
are, I think, very contemporary. We only know about things like
climate change — and other signs of the Anthropocene — because
of the natural sciences. Without the very extensive global knowledge
hack that is climate science, we would literally not know what the
hell is going on around us. Why these droughts? These floods? These
weird changes in the ranges of species, or their sudden extinctions or
population booms? None of it would make sense.

Neither Heidegger nor Adorno have anything to say about any of this.
But curiously, Bogdanov almost figured out global climate change for
himself, between 1908 and 1920. He understood something about the
carbon cycle. He understood the need to think social labor as acting
on and in and with and against nature, producing a second nature and
even a third. He understood the need to build an infrastructure that
could adapt to changes in its interactions with its conditions of
existence.

Lenin conducted a vigorous campaign to excommunicate Bogdanov, one
which the Marxist tradition has strikingly never really revisited or
attempted to reverse. This is among other things a great injustice.
Bogdanov’s kind of experimental, open-ended Marxism, which neither
tries to dominate, ignore, or subordinate itself to the natural
sciences, became something of a rarity. His closest contemporary
analog is, I think, Donna Haraway. Or so I argue in Molecular Red.

The Anthropocene calls not so much for new ways of thinking as for
new ways of practicing knowledge. When the going gets weird, the
weird turn pro. And it is likely to get weird — in this lifetime,
or the next. That’s why I think we could start working now, not on
theory of the Anthropocene, but theory for the Anthropocene. One could
do worse, I think, than imagine and practice again something like a
tektology and a proletkult – a tektology for hackers, a proletkult
for cyborgs. Let’s build a world, and live in it.

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