Rethinking Realpolitik: The Afterglobalization Movement and Beyond


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Michal Osterweil's presentation in Sorbonne, "Philosophy of the Web" seminar, March 3 2012.

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Rethinking Realpolitik: The Afterglobalization Movement and Beyond

  1. 1. Networked Realities//Unexpected Parallels?
  2. 2. BEYOND UNIVERSALIZING GLOBALITY ‘The struggle against capitalism which cannot be reduced to the struggle against neoliberalism, implies practices of multiplicity. Capitalism has invented a single, one dimensional world, but that world does not, ‘in itself’ exist. It requires our submission and our agreement in order to exist. That unified world is opposed to the multiplicity of life. It is opposed to the infinite dimensions of desire, of imagination and of creation to justice. That is why we believe that every struggle against capitalism thatis trying to be global or all-encompassing remains trapped in the structure of capitalism itself, that is, globalism. Resistance should start from and develop multiplicities…” - Inaugural Manifesto, Network for Creative Resistance, Miguel Benasayag
  3. 3. PLACE-BASED GLOBALISTS:Speaking in myriad voices, they use languages hard totranslate into our current political lexicon:(1) They work locally, in the everyday, and in the present connecting in intricate networks to build new worlds globally;(2)  They move in the micro- political terrains of culture, subjectivity, and modality, employing myth and multiplicity to make it impossible for the macro- political to dominate them;(3)  They evade and work against all tendencies to universal or global logics spatially, temporally and conceptually in order to make possible a truly global space for freedom and justice.
  5. 5. “We will walk then the same path of history, but we will not repeat it; we are from before, yes, but we are new.” – Subcomandante Marcos, The Fourth Key, 2001
  6. 6. “…like a bolt of lightening capable of illuminatingsubterranean molecular cooperation, hidden by theeveryday inertias that are imposed in time and spacethrough domination and subordination. To take lightening—insurrectional—moments asepistemological moments is to privilege the transience ofmovement and above all its intensity, in order toencounter what lies behind and below the establishedforms. During the uprising, shadowed areas areilluminated, albeit fleetingly.” (Zibechi, 2006: 11)
  7. 7. Since no revolutionary war machine is at present available and there is noway to get a good grip on reality, the collective subjectivity is so to speak,tripping: from time to time it has the “flashes.” It sees things, and then itstops. There was the autonomist movement in Italy… and then we pass onto other things. But it’s all going to come back. All these flashes don’t meanthat there is a total incoherence in the subjectivity but simply that an effortto is being made to perceive something which is not yet registered,inscribed, identified. I believe that the forces which today rally around thepeace movement are the same which, in other phases will rally around theecologist movement, around regionalist movements, around ex numbers ofcomponents of what I call the molecular revolution. What I mean by that isnot a cult of spontaneity or whatever, only the effort not to miss anythingthat would help rebuild a new kind of struggle, a new kind of society (Guattari 1996:90) .
  8. 8. Nuestra lucha es epistémica y política (Luis Macas, CONAIE leader).The social movements in Bolivia are about “the total transformation of liberal society” (Aymara sociologist Félix Patzi Paco, Chapel Hill, November 17, 2005).“The buen vivir is not only social and economic … it is also epistemic. … The buen vivir opens up the possibility to conceive of life, and live it, in an other manner, una manera ‘otra’”… concebida desde la diferencia ancestral pero pensada para el conjunto de la sociedad”.
  9. 9. DEFINING ONTOLOGY*) Any way of understanding the world must make assumptions (which may be implicit or explicit) about what kinds of things do or can exist, and what might be their conditions of existence, relations of dependency, and so on. Such an inventory of kinds of being and their relations is an ontology. (Scott and Marshall 2005 qtd in Blaser 2011, 3). 2) “Ontologies do not precede mundane practices, but rather are shaped through the practices and interactions of humans and non-humans…Hence, ontologies perform themselves into worlds—thus I use the term ontologies and worlds as synonyms.” (From ANT) (Blaser 2011, 3) 3) “ Ontologies must be understood as the total (i.e. including discursive and non-discursive) enactments of worlds. In this sense, myths are neither true nor false; they engender different worlds which have their own criteria for defining truth” (ibid :3).
  10. 10. ICT DEFINITIONS OF ONTOLOGYAn ontology defines a common vocabulary for researchers who need to share information in a domain. It includes machine- interpretable definitions of basic concepts in the domain and relations among them.Why would someone want to develop an ontology? Some of the reasons are:·         To share common understanding of the structure of information among people or software agents·         To enable reuse of domain knowledge·         To make domain assumptions explicit·         To separate domain knowledge from the operational knowledge·         To analyze domain knowledge
  11. 11. UNDERSTANDING COMPUTERS AND COGNITION(WINOGRAD AND FLORES, 1986) Every questioning grows out of a tradition—a pre-understanding that opens the space of possible answers. We use the word tradition here in a broad sense, without the connotation that it belongs to a cohesive social or cultural group, or that it consists of particular customs or practices. It is a more pervasive, fundamental phenomenon that might be called a way of being. ...It is not a set of rules or sayings or something we might find catalogued in an encyclopedia. It is a way of understanding, a background within which we interpret and act. We use the word tradition because it emphasizes the historicity of our ways of thinking—the fact that we always exist within a pre-understanding determined by the history of our interactions with others who share the tradition . (Winograd and Flores : 1987: 7).
  12. 12. POLITICAL CULTUREEvery society is marked by a dominant political culture …apolitical culture is the particular social construction in everysociety of what counts as ‘political.’…political culture is thedomain of practices and institutions, carved out of the totality ofsocial reality, that historically comes to be considered as properlypolitical (in the same way as other domains are seen as properly‘economic,’ ‘cultural,’ and ‘social’). The dominant political cultureof the West has been characterized as ‘rationalist,’ universalistand individualist.(Alvarez and Escobar 1992: 8). 
  13. 13. BEYOND BINARY THINKINGIt seems that the making of a new political imaginary isunderway, or at the very least a remapping of the politicalterrain. Coming into being over the past few decades and intovisibility and self awareness through the internet, independentmedia, and most recently the World Social Forums, thisemergent imaginary confounds the timeworn oppositionsbetween global and local, revolution and reform, oppositionand experiment, institutional and individual transformation. Itis not that these paired evaluative terms are no longer useful,but that they now refer to processes that inevitably overlapand intertwine. This conceptual interpenetration in radically alteringthe spatiotemporal frame of progressive of politics, reconfiguring theposition and role of the subject, as well as shifting the grounds forassessing the efficacy of political movements and initiatives (Gibson Graham 2006: xix).
  14. 14. FOUR MAIN CULTURAL PRACTICES DEEPLY SHAPEDBY THE “RATIONALISTIC TRADITION” :  The belief in the concept of science  The autonomous individual  The naturalization of ‘the [dis-embedded] economy’  The belief in ‘objective reality’ (seeing ourselves as modern subjects in control of an objective world we can manipulate). Knowledge is best gained from detached distance.  The unquestioned belief in development, progress, growth, linearity. These elements constitute ‘the default setting’ of modern life (David Foster Wallace: an ego-centered worldview). They are most profoundly naturalized in our culture. Like fish swimming in sea water.
  15. 15. From Arturo Escobar 2012
  16. 16. From Arturo Escobar 2012
  17. 17. Being BecomingMolar MolecularMajoritarian MinorMacro-political Micro-political
  18. 18. DELEUZE VS GRAMSCIAN KNOWLEDGE/POLITICSThe revolution clearly needs a war machine, but that’s not aState apparatus. It also needs an analytic force, an analyzer ofthe desires of the masses, absolutely—but not an externalmechanism of synthesis. …The most important thing is notauthoritarian unification, but a kind of infinite swarming:desires in the neighborhoods, schools, factories, prisons, ..Itsnot about a make-over or totalization, but hooking up at thesame plane at its tipping point. As long as we stick to thealternative between the impotent spontaneity of anarchy andthe hierarchical and bureaucratic encoding of a partyorganization, there can be no liberation of desire. (Guattari qtd in Deleuze 2004: 267).
  19. 19. ASSUMPTIONS IN MODELS OF THE POLITICAL  Future orientation. Teleology. Change is progressive.  Scientistic: Formulaic: dogmatic.  One. Universalist.  Ends over Means.  State distinct from Social.  Hierarchical Order versus Dispersal  Culture distinct from Politics/Power.
  20. 20. HACKER ETHIC?Hackers create the possibility of new things entering theworld. Not always great things, or even good things, butnew things. In art, in science, in philosophy and culture,in any production of knowledge where data can begathered, where information can be extracted from it,and where in that information new possibilities for theworld produced, there are hackers hacking the new worldout of the old. (Wark 2004, 21).
  21. 21. A NEW THEORETICAL PRACTICE?“Thought lags behind nature” (ATP 5).“…the categories with which reality is thought of and reflected on remains, with a few exceptions, Eurocentric" (Zibechi 2012: 11).“We’re tired of trees. We should stop believing intrees, roots, and radicles. They’ve made ussuffer too much…Nothing is beautiful or loving orpolitical aside from underground stems and aerialroots, adventitious growths and rhizomes.” (ATP 15).
  22. 22. THANK YOU!Many thanks to all those who comprise the assemblages and multiplicities— knots of nodes of nets of relationships– that have produced this talk. Arturo Escobar in particular! I take full responsibility for any of its shortcomings.